News Monitor for January 2002
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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Chicago Tribune 6 Jan 2002 By Douglass W. Cassel. In less than a decade, international justice has crossed the historic threshold from academic to real. It is no small accomplishment that we can now plan a practical agenda for international prosecutions of atrocities. Not long ago the idea that international courts could prosecute crimes of global concern seemed fanciful. By 1992 there had been no such courts since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II. (The "World Court" in The Hague hears only lawsuits between nations.) But the end of the Cold War made greater international cooperation possible. In 1993, the UN Security Council established an international criminal tribunal for genocide, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. In 1994 it did so for the Rwandan genocide. A 1998 UN conference in Rome agreed on a treaty to establish a permanent, global International Criminal Court. (ICC). Since then the UN has also negotiated "mixed" tribunals of international and national judges in Cambodia and Sierra Leone, while UN transitional administrations have prosecuted war crimes in Kosovo and East Timor. Witness former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, now facing trial for genocide at the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague, where he joins 42 other prisoners. Or former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who along with four other leaders of the genocidal regime is now serving life in prison. Twelve former Cabinet ministers are among 49 Rwandan officials and leaders in custody in Arusha, Tanzania. But much more is needed if this initial momentum is to build. In a recent poll of 20,000 people in 20 countries, 4 out of 10 named human rights as the area most in need of stronger international control. They are right. The priorities Priorities this year should include: Yugoslavia: Thirty arrest warrants remain outstanding, including those for former Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. For years Western governments have shied away from arresting these two top international criminals. With only a slight fraction of the energy he has devoted to tracking down Osama bin Laden, President Bush could and should end this international embarrassment. Sierra Leone: The UN and the government agreed more than a year ago to establish a mixed international and national court to prosecute criminals such as the former rebels who specialized in raping girls and chopping off the hands of their victims. But the court has been stalled because of a lack of funds. Before he would launch the court, Secretary General Kofi Annan rightly insisted on having its first-year budget of $16 million in hand and the following two years' annual budgets of $20 million committed. Now, with $15 million in hand and most of the rest committed, he will send a preparatory mission to Sierra Leone this month to find a site for the court and to take other first steps. The funding shortfalls are pittances. Washington should make sure that they are filled, both by paying the U.S. share and by lobbying others to pay theirs. Cambodia: Prime Minister Hun Sen (a Khmer Rouge turncoat) long dragged his feet on his deal with the UN to create a mixed court to prosecute his former comrades. But last summer, Cambodia finally passed the law to create the court. After Sept. 11, however, with final details yet to be worked out, UN attention to Cambodia reportedly got "lost in the mail." Washington should make clear that delays must end so that some measure of justice may, at long last, be achieved for the 1.7 million victims of Cambodia's killing fields. East Timor: The UN administration in East Timor is currently prosecuting low-level war criminals. But the big fish are across the border in Indonesia. Two years ago, Indonesia's national human-rights commission named Gen. Wiranto and other military leaders as responsible for the mass mayhem carried out by paramilitary groups before and after East Timorese voted for independence in 1999. Indonesia's government, however, opposed an international tribunal, promising instead to prosecute its own miscreants before a new, special human-rights court. But when the list of indictments came out, the biggest fish--including Wiranto--were missing. Other legal maneuvers have been taken to try to block prosecutions. With Indonesia now on the list of countries whose cooperation is sought in the war on terrorism, there is a risk that the Bush administration might decide to let its military off the hook. That would be a mistake. We cannot show our resolve to punish new atrocities by forgetting old ones. Washington must put pressure on Jakarta not to renege on its commitment. The ICC issue International Criminal Court: By statute, the permanent, global ICC will give first crack at prosecuting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to national courts. The ICC intervenes only if the national courts' proceedings are shams, designed not to achieve but to obstruct justice. If the ICC existed today, its message to Indonesia would be simple: Either you prosecute Gen. Wiranto or we will. That, however, is only a hypothetical. The ICC cannot prosecute Wiranto, because it cannot prosecute crimes committed before it comes into being. The ICC treaty has now been ratified by 48 of the 60 required countries. They include Britain, France and other NATO allies. With many other ratifications now in the legislative pipeline, the ICC is likely to be established in The Hague this year. A new era would begin. But the U.S. will be conspicuously absent. The Pentagon objects that an errant ICC prosecutor might put American leaders or soldiers on trial for war crimes--even though the treaty incorporates every safeguard short of outright exempting the U.S. While President Bill Clinton signed the treaty and announced he would keep negotiating even further protections for Americans, President Bush has made clear that he will not support the treaty. Congress has gone further. Last month the Senate passed a bill that would generally bar the U.S. from cooperating with the ICC. It would even authorize the president to use "all means necessary and appropriate" (including military force) to free any American detained by the ICC. The House passed a narrower bill, sponsored by Illinois congressman Henry Hyde, that prohibits Defense Department funds in the current fiscal year from being used to cooperate with the ICC. In conference committee, the Hyde proposal was adopted. No one expects the president or Congress to have a sudden change of heart and embrace the ICC, even though most of the world's democracies support it. For Washington to get on board, what may be needed is for time to pass, during which experience can prove the worth of the ICC--and its lack of any real risk to the U.S. After all, we waited almost 40 years to ratify the UN Convention Against Genocide. In the meantime, we should at least not take gratuitous, symbolic potshots at the ICC. Whether Washington likes it or not, the ICC will soon be a reality, supported by our allies. If by next fiscal year we cannot bring ourselves to join the ICC, then we should let the Hyde amendment expire and otherwise maintain a statesmanlike silence. Why? Because the ICC is needed. Indonesia is only one of countless countries whose courts have failed to hold their national leaders accountable for atrocities. Even if such failures of justice--and the pattern of impunity they create--do not move the Pentagon, they must concern all who care about human rights. The ICC may stimulate national courts to do their job, or, failing that, serve as a trial court of last resort. Either way, the ICC will be good news for victims of atrocities. Douglass W. Cassel heads the Center for International Human Rights in the Law School at Northwestern University.
Reuters 7 Jan 2002 Vigilante Leader Held in 'Witches' Murder COTONOU (Reuters) - A vigilante militia leader has been charged with murder in the West African state of Benin after two women accused of being witches were murdered, a prosecutor said. Zinsou Ehoun, more famous as vigilante leader Colonel Civil Devi, was arrested after the discovery of the mutilated bodies of the two women seized by his associates, prosecutor Nicolas Biaou told state television late Saturday. ``Six people handed over some suspected witches, a lady and her daughter,'' Biaou said. ``A few days later the two women were found dead, mutilated, their heads split and their bellies cut open. Their intestines had disappeared.'' ``We have arrested the six people and they have confirmed that they had indeed left the two suspected witches at Devi's home,'' added Biaou, public prosecutor for Dogbo town around 60 miles from the main city Cotonou. Devi, a woodcarver in his 40s and self-styled head of a crime-fighting vigilante militia, is well known in Benin since he boasted in 1999 that 100 thieves captured by his group had been burned alive.
IRIN 7 Jan 2002 South African peacekeeper killed NAIROBI, 7 Jan 2002 (IRIN) - A South African soldier deployed to protect members of Burundi's government has been found strangled, news organisations have reported. One of a 701-member special protection unit for exiled leaders who returned to Burundi to take part in the new transitional government, Elvis Azwifarwi Makhado's body was found approximately six kilometres outside the capital, Bujumbura, Sapa reported on Friday. He was off duty at the time. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution unanimously in October 2001, backing the creation of a temporary international security force for Burundi. So far, only South Africa has sent troops. The battalion has orders to protect returning Burundi exiles, mainly Hutus, that are members of state institutions and the transitional government installed on 1 November 2001.
Reuters 6 Jan 2002 Cultures Collide As S.African Force Patrols Burundi By Maria Eismont BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - ``See the big car?'' a young woman asks her son, pointing to an armored military landrover in Burundi's capital Bujumbura. ``Those are South African soldiers.'' The boy's eyes open wide. ``White soldiers -- I thought all white soldiers must be in Europe,'' he says. ``It would be better if they were,'' replies his mother, more to herself than anyone else. Two months after arriving in Bujumbura on their first post-apartheid peacekeeping mission abroad, most South African soldiers have found their main problem is boredom -- and an occasionally frosty reception from the locals. South Africa has so far sent about 700 soldiers to Burundi to protect members of a transitional government inaugurated on November 1 as part of efforts to end a brutal ethnic war that has killed more than 200,000 people. Cultures collided in the troops' uneventful first few weeks, as residents encountered novelties like white soldiers with big mustaches, women troops and modern armored vehicles. But the contingent's mood darkened dramatically on Friday with the unexplained murder of one of its members. The body of the soldier was found in an abandoned house in Kinama, one of the capital's most dangerous neighborhoods and an area few South Africans visit. The incident was a grim reminder that security -- for both foreigners and locals -- can be precarious in this deceptively normal-looking city where the war can often seem a world away. The sight of the South Africans still attracts attention from street crowds but the excitement of the early days is being replaced by more mixed feelings. The soldiers are putting on a brave face. ``Going to the airport we see many people on the street. We wave to them and they wave back, but one or two will have their thumbs down,'' says the commander of the South African contingent in Burundi, General Andrew Kgobe. ``Generally the people of Burundi accept us here,'' he told Reuters. Many residents in the center of Bujumbura, mostly inhabited by minority Tutsis, seem to tolerate the foreign troops though they haven't fully accepted their presence. But the Tutsis, who have led the country since its independence from Belgium in 1962, fear that a genocide such as Rwanda's 1994 slaughter of 800,000 ethnic minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremist Hutus could happen in Burundi if they give up power. And for some Tutsis the South African troops are in the country to help the Hutus. ``I just don't like seeing those people here,'' a young Tutsi government worker told Reuters, a few minutes after showing a wide smile and waving a friendly ``Hello'' to a group of the soldiers returning from Bujumbura's Central Market. ``Every time I see their uniforms I have the impression we are occupied.'' Many of the soldiers have discovered local beer, sports facilities and some have made friends with young Burundian women. ``We enjoy ourselves here,'' General Kgobe said. ``Every day we give our troops leisure time. They go out, they go to Lake Tanganyika, and tomorrow some will play golf.'' The soldiers are enforcing a new peace plan mediated by former South African President Nelson Mandela. Under the agreement, Burundi's President Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, will lead the government for 18 months with a Hutu deputy before passing the reins to a Hutu-Tutsi administration for the second half of the transition launched on November 1. The power-sharing initiative is aimed at steering the country away from an eight-year-old conflict between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated army. But sporadic fighting has intensified since November 1. WELCOMED BY HUTUS, HATED BY TUTSIS For many Hutus, the presence of the troops offers hope that an international military force will not allow the army, dominated by Tutsis, to overthrow the transition government. ``It is good they are here,'' a Hutu resident of Bujumbura told Reuters. ``They guarantee the democratic changes that all of us are expecting.'' One of the soldiers said: ``We feel many people don't like us much here. ``But it is better than in the beginning. Then there were crowds following us and silently staring at us, and it was a bit frightening. Now it seems they are more or less used to our presence here.'' Although the expectations of the commanders were to have at least 30 politicians to protect, so far only nine ministers who returned from exile to participate in the transitional government have asked for the services of foreign troops. ``We enjoy ourselves here,'' General Kgobe said. ``Every day we give our troops leisure time. They go out, they go to Lake Tanganyika, and tomorrow some will play golf.'' He is not worried about the low number of protected politicians. ``We are not surprised,'' he said. ``For a week there were only three, then it started increasing and we expect there are still more to come to the country.'' ECHOES OF WAR Tiny Bujumbura does not seem like the capital of a country torn by one of the most brutal civil wars in Central Africa. Normal traffic runs in the city center, traders and buyers haggle over prices at the bustling market, and fancy Lake Tanganyika restaurants are patronized by a few bored expatriates and wealthy Burundians. Apart from sporadic shelling that echoes from nearby hills, the war is not apparent. Although fighting has intensified since November 1 and more people have been killed in southern and eastern Burundi, the South Africans have seen no action yet. ``We thought Burundi was different from this,'' one of the soldiers said. ``We thought it would be more war-like and that we would have a lot of work to do. It is boring and frustrating to sit here all the day long.''
AP 6 Jan 2002 Congolese President to meet rebel leaders Congolese President Joseph Kabila will meet with leaders of the country's two main rebel groups on Jan. 14 to discuss fight in eastern Congo and narrow differences before talks on the country's political future, a rebel spokesman said Sunday. At the meeting in Malawi, rebel leaders will press Kabila to cut his government's support for Rwandan rebels operating in eastern Congo, said Jean Pierre Lola Kisanga, the spokesman for the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy. The Rwandan rebels are fighting Congolese rebels backed by Rwanda's government. Congo's civil-war broke out in August 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda backed Congolese rebels attempting to oust then-President Laurent Kabila, accusing him of threatening regional security by arming Rwandan and Ugandan rebels. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent troops to support the government. Although a 1999 peace-agreement has gained momentum since Kabila's assassination last January and the succession of his son Joseph, fighting between Congolese and Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo has continued. The Rwandan rebels fled to Congo after carrying out the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 500,000 people were killed and have fought alongside Congolese government troops in Congo's war. Kisanga said the rebel leaders wanted Kabila to cut his support for Rwandan rebels before talks on Congo's political future, which are expected to be held in South Africa in February. The Congolese political dialogue is intended to pave the way for the introduction of representative government in Congo after four decades of corrupt dictatorship. It was called for by the 1999 peace accord signed by all warring parties. The rebel leaders will also press Kabila to drop his opposition to setting up a transitional government before holding elections in Congo. Kabila has been pushing to hold elections immediately after the political negotiations in South Africa. "We need to sort out our differences before proceeding to the wider dialogue with the unarmed political opposition and civil society" in South Africa," Kisanga said. "Otherwise we shall end up with chaos instead of making progress at the larger meeting." The meeting in Malawi will take part during a 14-nation Southern African Development Community summit.
Panafrican News Agency (PANA) 11 Dec 2002 GAMBIA'S HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION STILL APPALLING BODY: Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The secretary general of a coalition of human rights defenders in Gambia, Mohammed Lamin Sillah, has described the country's human rights record as appalling. Sillah, who is also the local Amnesty International Director, told a news conference Monday that the frequent arrest and detention of innocent citizens, including journalists and human rights activists tarnished Gambia's human rights status. "These arrests and detentions without trial makes life difficult for human rights defenders," he said at a news conference to mark the anniversary of the United Nations human rights declaration. Sillah who was recently arrested and detained by the security agents for six days said no amount of intimidation and threat will prevent activists from advocating human rights in the country. "The struggle is unabated and it is a life long process which must continue. Human rights is a non-negotiable thing", he told journalists. Sillah called on Gambia government to set up an independent and impartial committee to recommend the prosecution of security officers accused of massacring innocent students on April 2000. "The trigger-happy soldiers killed fourteen unarmed and defenceless students and they were left scot-free by an indemnity act". He said his office at times finds it difficult to investigate cases of human rights abuses in the country because some victims hardly report alleged cases or are afraid to talk about them. Sillah said that Amnesty International was still lobbying the Gambian government to sign and ratify the convention establishing the International Criminal Court, whose role will be to try people who commit crimes against humanity such as torture. "AI is also urging The Gambia to sign, ratify and implement the Optional Protocol, setting at least 18 as the minimum age for all forms of military recruitment". He urged the government to respect the rights of people irrespective of their political, religious and ethnic background.
IRIN 8 Jan 2002 Dozens reported dead in clashes between farmers, herders LAGOS, - Dozens of people died and hundreds were displaced in clashes that broke out a week ago between local farming communities and nomadic Fulani herders in Mambilla plateau, northeastern Nigeria, police and local officials said. "No fewer than 40 people died both on the side of the Fulanis and the Mambilla," Gamji Yusuf, an official of the Sarduana local government area, which includes Mambilla, told IRIN. "Many Fulani herdsmen have since fled across the border into Cameroon for fear of reprisal attacks." Taraba State Police Commissioner Egbe Mfom told journalists on Monday in the state capital, Jalingo, that the fighting broke out on 31 December in Tonga Maina village following a dispute over grazing land. He said the violence was brought under control with the deployment of anti-riot policemen to the affected areas. "We have also arrested a number of people, who said they were hired by some influential people to engage in the fighting," Mfom said. Some of those arrested were reportedly foreigners from neighbouring countries and were paraded before journalists along with weapons, including a sub-machine gun, said to have been recovered from them. Clashes between pastoral and farming communities linked to disputes over grazing land, have become frequent in parts of central and northern Nigeria in recent years. Some analysts have blamed the trend on increasing desertification, which is pushing herders southwards in their search for pasture, often putting them in conflict with farmers.
Reuters 8 Jan 2002 Dozens Reported Killed in Nigerian Land Clashes LAGOS (Reuters) - Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in weeklong clashes between farmers and nomadic tribesmen in northeastern Nigeria, the latest bout of ethnic bloodletting to hit Africa's most populous nation. Local residents said Tuesday that fighting between Mambila indigenous farmers and nomadic Fulani had flared sporadically since New Year's Eve around Tonga Maina village on the Mambila Plateau of Taraba State. Residents of nearby towns contacted by telephone could not give a precise death toll, but national newspapers put the figure at between 30 and 50. Multi-ethnic Nigeria, with a population of over 110 million divided into some 250 tribes, is struggling with its worst cycle of ethnic bloodletting for more than 30 years. Much of the fighting has been underpinned by religious and political differences, notably in the largely Islamic north of the country. The introduction of strict Muslim sharia law by a dozen states has triggered Muslim-Christian fighting which has killed more than 2,000 people in two years. Land is at the center of much of the violence in northeastern and central Nigeria, where peasant minority groups have been jostling for farmland with livestock rearers. Police in Yola, capital of neighboring Adamawa state, said a team of officers from Yola was heading for Mambila Tuesday to assess the situation. The independent Guardian newspaper said the fighting had forced many Fulani to take their livestock across the border into the neighboring West African state of Cameroon. It said the fighting flared after Mambila youths confronted a group they said was part of a militia hired by the Fulani in Tonga Maina village. Riot police deployed in the area have arrested more than 40 people, newspapers said.
BBC 8 Jan 2002 Nigeria land clashes claim more lives The area has a long history of ethnic tension Dozens of people have reportedly died in heavy clashes over land in eastern Nigeria between indigenous farmers and settler tribesmen. Up to 10,000 people have died in Nigerian clashes in the past three years Hundreds have fled the Mambila Plateau area of Taraba state in the past week since fighting began between the Mambila and the nomadic Fulani communities. The area, which borders Cameroon, has a long history of competition between farmers and livestock rearers competing for scarce resources. Correspondents say tensions have risen yet further since local government officials threatened to re-distribute land that was not being used effectively. Nigeria has been wracked recently by its worst cycle of ethnic, religious and political bloodletting for more than 30 years. Toll unconfirmed The number of dead in the latest clashes is unconfirmed, but the AFP news agency put the number of casualties at more than 50. Police reinforcements have been sent to the area from neighbouring Adamawa state to restore calm. The Reuters news agency quoted local newspapers as saying many Fulanis had taken their livestock and fled into Cameroon. The hilly region has in recent years seen an influx of farmers, stoking Mambila fears that the Fulanis are encroaching on their land. The BBC's Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar said the problem has been compounded by politicians who have used the land issue as an electoral platform to win votes. In November, land disputes elsewhere in Taraba between the Tiv and Jukun communities left up to 50 people dead. Up to 10,000 people are thought to have died in communal, religious and sectarian violence since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.
Vanguard (Lagos) 8 Jan 2002 50 Killed in Taraba Land Dispute Kano MORE than 50 people have been killed in a land dispute between indigenous farmers and "settlers" in Taraba State in the past week, an official said yesterday. Armed youths of the Mambilla ethnic group attacked three ethnic Fulani communities on the hilly Mambilla Plateau area of the State on Saturday, Taraba State spokesman Jeji Williams said on telephone. The Fulani have farmed in the area for years but are still considered "settlers" by the Mambilla. This has caused tensions and occasional outbursts of fighting, the latest of which erupted last week with 50 people killed, Williams said. "The renewed clash was a carryover of an earlier one at Gembu two weeks ago in which about 50 people were killed," the government spokesman explained. Williams said more had been killed on Saturday but the numbers of dead were not immediately known. Hundreds of people have fled their homes in the area, fearing further fighting, he added. The fighting between the two groups dates back to 1918 when the area, once part of Cameroon, was held under the control of the United Nations at the end of World War I. The Mambilla were given control of the area and it takes its name from them. The area joined Nigeria after a plebiscite in 1959. A hilly region with abundant water supplies and a temperate climate, the Mambilla Plateau has in recent years seen an influx of farmers, both Mambilla and Fulani and that has increased the long standing tensions.
Vanguard (Lagos) 8 Jan 2002 Governor Assures Fleeing Residents of Safety in Plateau Taye Obateru Jos GOVERNOR Joshua Dariye of Plateau State has appealed to those taking refuge at the Rukuba Army Barracks, Jos following Sunday's outbreak of fresh disturbances at Turu and Vwang villages of Jos South LG to return to their homes, assuring them of their safety. Hundreds of them who are mostly Fulanis, fled to the barracks Monday fear of reprisal attacks from indigenes after a surprise attack on the two villages by alleged Fulani invaders. The governor who visited the barracks Tuesday, urged the displaced persons to go back to their normal lives as government had taken necessary security measures to ensure their safety. He described Sunday's incident as an isolated but unfortunate development which should not be allowed to disrupt the peace that had returned to the state after the September disturbances. Some of the displaced persons including the Fulani aedes for Gyel and Bukuru in separate responses, said they were prepared to return to their abodes once government puts in place necessary measures to guarantee their safety. they explained that they fled with their cows for fear of being attacked after Sunday's incident. Also speaking, the General Officer Commanding Three Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Thaddeus Akande who conducted the governor round, appealed to the media not to report happenings in a manner that could escalate crises. He said the media should rather concentrate on things capable of forging peace and unity which were essential for the country's growth. Governor Dariye had on Monday visited Vwang and Turu villages to sympathise with victims during which he appealed to the people to be calm and not to take the laws into their hands. He also visited some of the victims receiving treatment at the Vom Christian Hospital.
Daily Trust (Abuja) 9 Jan 2002 Mambilla Crisis - Taraba to Sanction Culprits Taraba State government says it would deal with those involved in the crises between Fulanis and Mambillas in Sardauna Local Government of the state which has claimed about 30 lives. The State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Saleh Danboyi, gave the warning in Jalingo when he visited the police command in the state to see the suspects arrested in connection with the communal crisis. Danboyi said that the state government was tired with the incessant eruptions of communal crises and the attendant blood-letting. He said the government would not fold its arms and watch irresponsible people destroy the state. When asked why only Fulanis were arrested as suspects, he said investigation was continuing and if the police felt that other people had a hand in the killings, they too would be arrested and prosecuted. The News Agency of Nigeria observed that some of the injured suspects were taken to the Jalingo General Hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, the Adamawa Police Command said a team of officers from Yola, the Adamawa State capital, yesterday left for the Mambilla Plateau to assess the situation and complement the efforts of riot policemen on the ground there to keep law and order. Reports reaching Daily Trust indicate that the fighting, which began on New Year eve, has forced Fulani nomads to herd their cattle across the Nigerian border into the Republic of Cameroon. The police have announced the arrest of over 50 suspects. According to the Taraba State Police Commi-ssioner, Mr. Egbe Njom, the suspects confessed to being mercenaries hired by one of the parties to the dispute.
IRIN 8 Jan 2002 HRW condemns Sharia execution ABIDJAN - Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday condemned the execution of a man on the order of a Sharia court in Nigeria, and urged the Nigerian authorities not carry out the death sentences of such courts. "As the first execution under Sharia in Nigeria, we fear that this may signal a willingness on the part of the authorities to carry out further death sentences in future," Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of HRW's Africa Division, said in a statement released in New York. Sani Yakubu Rodi (21) was hanged in the northern state of Katsina, on 3 January 2002 after a Sharia court found him guilty of stabbing to death a woman and her two children, aged four years and three months. He was reportedly caught at the scene of the murder and arrested by the police, the New York-based human rights watchdog said. "Rodi did not have legal representation at any stage of his trial; he apparently told the court that he would defend himself," HRW said. "In the initial hearing on 5 July, he pleaded not guilty. However, in a subsequent hearing on 4 September, he changed to a guilty plea. The court sentenced him to death on 5 November. He did not take up the opportunity to appeal, and his death sentence was subsequently confirmed. His execution was authorized by the Governor of Katsina State." HRW called on the Nigerian Government to guarantee international standards of fair trial in all courts, including Sharia courts, and appealed to state governors to commute any future death sentences. Executions under Sharia, it warned, were likely to heighten tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in northern Nigeria. Several other people in Nigeria have been sentenced to death by Sharia courts, but not yet executed, including a pregnant woman found guilty in October 2001 of having pre-marital sex. "The death penalty is an inhuman, degrading and cruel punishment which cannot be justified in any circumstance, however brutal the crime of which the defendant is accused," Takirambudde said.
BBC 18 Dec 2001 Nigeria 'ignored' danger signs Vigilantes rampaged through Jos An international human rights organisation has said the Nigerian authorities could have prevented mass killings during religious clashes in September in central Nigeria but failed to react to warning signals. The New York-based group, Human Rights Watch, quoting eyewitness accounts in its 25 page report, said that up to 1,000 people were killed in a week of fighting between Muslims and Christians in the town of Jos. Government authorities and security forces failed to take action that could have saved hundreds of lives Human Rights Watch The official figure put the number of dead below 100. Human Rights Watch said both Muslims and Christians were to blame for the violence. But the report said the authorities ignored several warnings from religious and other non-governmental bodies. Signals "Government authorities and security forces failed to take action that could have saved hundreds of lives," Human Rights Watch said. "The Nigerian Government can't just sit back and watch this happen," said HRW official Peter Takirambudde in the report. "It has a responsibility to maintain peace. There were clear signals that trouble was brewing in Jos but these signals were ignored." The Nigerian authorities regularly play down casualty figures from religious and ethnic clashes to try to prevent reprisal killings. President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the army to restore order after police were overwhelmed by the spreading riots. Tension The population of Jos is overwhelmingly Christian, but there is a sizeable Muslim community. Fulanis and Hausas - two of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups - make up a large proportion of the Muslims. Relations between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria have been tense since the introduction of the Sharia Islamic law in 12 states. In February 2000, more than 2,000 people were killed in religious unrest in Kaduna, and some 450 more Nigerians died in reprisals in the south-east of the country. On Tuesday, Gombe became the 13th state to adopt Sharia, when Governor Abubakar Hashidu signed the bill into law. As elsewhere, he sought to reassure non-Muslims by saying they would still be subject to customary or civil law and only Muslims would be tried under Sharia.
Daily Trust (Abuja) 4 Jan 2002 Tiv/Jukun Crisis - ACF Sends Delegations to Benue, Taraba Abdullahi M. Gulloma In its efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation between Tiv, the Jukuns and other ethnic groups in Taraba and Benue states, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Saturday December 28th, 2001 sent two delegations to meet with his Highness the Aku Uka, Chairman, Taraba State Council of Chiefs, and the governor of Taraba State. Another team met with his Royal Highness the Tor Tiv chairman Benue Council of Chiefs and the governor of Benue State. A press statement signed by the publicity secretary of ACF, Alhaji Aliyu Hayatul, said the delegation which met the Aku Uka was led by Alhaji M.D. Yusuf, the chairman of the central working committee of the ACF while the delegation that went to Benue State was led by Hon. Justice Mamman Nasir, Galadiman Katsina, a member of the Forum's Advisory Council. The statement said the delegations were well received and held far-reaching discussions with their hosts, adding that the delegation to Benue State, at a meeting with Governor George Akume, was assured of all support and assistance to realise the objective of peace and reconciliation. The delegation to Taraba, it continued, was, however, unable to meet with Governor Jolly Nyame as he was out of the state. "On their part, their Highness the Aku Uka and the Tor Tive reiterated to the delegations their willingness and determination to restore peace and reconciliation in their areas," the statement further said. The Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka were also said to have accepted an invitation to attend a meeting in Kaduna, in the New Year, in furtherance of the efforts for peace and reconciliation.
This Day (Lagos) 3 Jan 2002 Managing Communal Clashes ANALYSIS by Ahmadu Sheidu in Lagos. Communal clashes are criminal activities, as at the end of it all, lives are lost and property, destroyed. Whether at first instance or later on, the police are called in to either help in containing the mayhem and effect arrest or both. From the time we had the first ethnic clashes in the southern oil town of Warri immediately after the inauguration of the President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration on May 29, 1999 till date about 2000 people are estimated to have been killed while property worth billions of Naira destroyed. These are made up of houses, cars, private businesses, mosques and churches including looting by hoodlums. Let us look at the various factors that have been said to be responsible for some of the clashes. In Delta State the youths believe that they are marginalised and were suffering some environmental degradation in spite of the fact that they provide the wealth of the nation. In Kaduna there was religious disturbance between the Muslims and the Christians over the institutionalization of sharia. A case of religious intolerance. Ethnic consciousness between the two biggest ethnic groups in the country that is the Yoruba and Hausas were said to be responsible for the circle of violence witnessed in Sagamu, Kano and Lagos. The latest of this tribal/ethnic consciousness proned crisis has led to the wanton destruction of lives and property in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba states, between the Tiv's and other tribes. You will all recall too that within the last two years several ethnic groups have emerged and gained prominence. These include OPC (O'odua Peoples Congress) fighting for the southwest states. The Arewa People's Congress allegedly protecting the interest of the ethnic Northern Nigeria. Others are the Egbesu Boys and the Ijaw Youth Council. We have also the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign States by the Biafra (MASSOB) and the Bakassi Boys. These are all tribally biased groups devoid of national consciousness. One thing that all these organisations illegally have in their possessions and which no one has shown sufficient concern, to disposse them of it, is the modern and atimes sophisticated weapons that has gradually but steadily stocked in their arsenal. In the early 1970, the source of these weapons, were traced to the civil war that the country fought and at the end of the which these weapons were said to have been carelessly abandoned and some civilians took possession of them illegally. Of recent other sources can be traced to illegal importation of such arms and outright sale by some security outfit to willing buyers. How has the federal government responded to these mayhem, generally and particularly within the last two years. The question becomes imperative because one justification for the existence of any government as an institution is that it provides centrally, collectively, exclusively and effectively the protection of its subjects against any form of aggression, whether riot, crime or acts of war emanating from any quarters. This historical responsibility does not in any way render untrue that there is hardly any country in the world which does not have one security threat or other hanging over it, be it internal or external. It is also true to some extent that there is hardly any state, which can completely prevent all security threats, to which it may be exposed. The event of September 11, 2001 in USA strongly under scores this postulation. However, the ability of any government to effectively manage both its internal and external security problems determines its legitimacy to govern. The federal government's instant response to most of these clashes is to dispatch the military to deal decisively with each situation to the chagrin and frustration of some Nigerians because of the death tolls after each disturbance. The reason for this heavy casualty is not farfetched, it is because the military is trained to kill and not to arrest or contain the outbreak of violence internally. The Nigeria police whose primary role it is to maintain law and order and contain with the use of either "minimum force" or "comparative force" have long been neglected and left with outdated equipment, such that as today the Nigeria's police is no longer capable of containing any major outbreak of violence in the country and this is to the detriment of the society. The neglect of the police by successive military governments and to some extent our present administration, has not taken into account the progressive and aggressive nature of our politics, religious fanaticism, Unabating incidences of armed robbery, student's belligerence and industrial disputes (Borno incidence). These have all merged to bring about a violent change in our internal security situation. Encasing this extremely volatile complex is our fissile Federalism as well as our libertarian constitution which acts as a detonator rather than a moderator of internal conflicts. Also, the country today is bedeviled by the mounting wave of unemployment which creates an army of able-bodied citizens who are growing increasingly disenchanted and disillusioned with the socio-economic arrangement of the country. They, the unemployed in all cases become quite susceptible to being manipulated by our greedy and unscrupulous elite and politicians for their selfish interests The intelligence network of the nation should be co-ordinated in a system that will provide early warning to the states authorities particularly state governors, who should be able to work cordially with their commissioners of police and nip in the bud information leading to communal clashes be it religious or ethnic. I am not unmindful of the constitutional provision in Section 215 and subsection 4 and 5. But since such order by the state governor will aimed essentially at containing or forestalling break- down of law and order and without prejudice, compliance can be automatic and without breaching the constitution. However, this provision of the constitution should be revisited to allow state governors a measure of discretion and control of the Nigeria police located in their states in respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and order in view of our present experiences. The Northern Nigerian laws of 1963 place some law and order responsibilities on traditional rulers and were given the authority to so function. There is no doubt that if properly positioned by a state law or even a federal law they can still be part of either local government or state security outfit. There is a saying that the failure of justice is more dangerous to the society than crime itself. Most of the clashes that the nation has witnessed within the last two years, in spite of the fact that some of them have threatened the very existence of the nation, it would appear that adequate punishment has not been meted on identified culprits, that itself can continue to be a detonator of crisis of all nature. Since most of the "Cannon fodders" are the able-bodied unemployed youths, the federal government should be seen to address the issueof unemployment frontally. The army of unemployed graduates grow in this country in thousands yearly and with the "deaths" of the middle-class in the society and that of small and medium scale industries, the growth may continue unabated. The twin issues of poverty and ignorace cannot be wiped out immediately, but the point is that where unemployment figures increase daily, where ignorance is bliss and extreme wealth is worshipped, communal crisis cannot be prevented without grappling with fundamental issues of restructuring the society along equitable line and equal opportunities for all. Lastly, as presently witnessed in parts of Northern Nigeria, that is Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states, efforts should be made by the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria's integration and cohesiveness is strengthened by the constitutional provision that will guarantee adequate security for all Nigerians wherever they may reside in the country.
Vanguard (Lagos) 2 Jan 2002 Arewa Plans Peace Talks On Tiv/Jukun Crisis Leon Usigbe in Kaduna AREWA Consultative Forum (ACF) plans to host a peace meeting in Kaduna for feuding Tiv and Jukun communities in Benue and Taraba states. The meeting is expected to take place this month according to the publicity secretary of the forum, Alhaji Aliyu Hayatu, the Chairman of Benue and Taraba states Council of Chiefs, The Tor Tiv and Aku Uka, respectively have already accepted the invitation to be present at the meeting. He disclosed in a statement in Kaduna that both traditional rulers have also pledged their support for ACF's effort to ensure permanent peace in the conflict zone. According to the forum's spokesman, the ACF has intensified its involvement in the drive to bring about reconciliation among the warring communities of the two states. Towards this end two powerfull delegations were over the last few days sent to both Benue and Taraba states to meet with the state governors and traditional rulers. The statement added: "The delegation which met the Aku Uka was led by Alhaji M.D. Yusuf, the chairman of the Central Working Committee of the ACF while the delegation that went to Benue State was led by Justice Mamman Nasir, Galadima Katsina, a member of the forum's council. The delegations were well received and held far reaching discussions with their hosts. The delegation to Benue State, at a meeting with Gov. George Akume, was assured of full support and assistance to realise the objective of peace and reconciliation. The delegation to Taraba was, however, unable to meet with Gov. Jolly Nyame as he was out of the state. On their part, their Highnesses, Aku Uka and the Tor Tiv reiterated their willingness and determination to restore peace and reconciliation in the areas. Accordingly, the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka have accepted an invitation to attend a meeting in Kaduna in the new year, in furtherance of the efforts for peace and reconciliation," the ACF spokesman revealed.
AP 24 Dec 2002 Gunmen Murder Nigeria Justice Chief By GLENN McKENZIE, LAGOS, Nigeria- Nigeria's president deployed troops Monday to defuse mounting political tension in the country's southwest after his justice minister was killed in an attack at home. The slain justice minister, Bola Ige, 71, who was also the country's attorney general, was one of the most outspoken campaigners for democracy under Nigeria's former military rulers. He died of a shot to the chest Sunday after several assailants broke into his home in the city of Ibadan in southwestern Osun State, government officials and family members said Monday. The motive was not immediately clear. President Olusegun Obasanjo canceled a trip to Zimbabwe and called an emergency Cabinet meeting. Afterward his spokesman, Tunji Oseni, issued a statement saying ``no effort will be spared'' to end Nigeria's ``culture of violence in politics.'' Later Monday, the president ordered army troops into the streets of Osun state amid fears of violence, and state television announced a nighttime curfew in the state. Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 120 million people, is regularly rocked by violent feuding along political, ethnic and religious lines. Bose Ehindero, a relative of Ige who answered the phone at the official's residence Monday morning, said Ige and his wife, Tinuke Ige, were in their bedroom when the assailants burst in on them. He was shot despite pleas from his wife, an appeals court judge, to spare his life, Ehindero added. A team of police officers assigned to protect Ige were away from their posts eating dinner at the time, Ehindero said. The Lagos daily newspaper ThisDay speculated the killing was linked to a violent political feud between the state's governor and his deputy. Last week, an Osun state legislator, Odunayo Olagbaju, was bludgeoned to death outside his home in the city of Ife, provoking riots in the city. Five people were reported killed. Olagbaju had been a supporter of Osun Deputy Gov. Iyiola Omisore. A few days ago, Ige reportedly escaped a mob attack in Ife in which his hat was knocked off and his glasses broken. Ige had apparently backed Osun State Gov. Bamidele Adebisi Akande, ThisDay said. Ige was the founder of one of Nigeria's three registered political parties, the Alliance for Democracy. Just weeks ago, he was chosen to serve in 2002 on the prestigious U.N. international law commission. Obasanjo quickly recruited Ige into his government following 1999 elections that ended military rule, even though the two had campaigned for opposing parties. Like Obasanjo, Ige had spent time in prison under the junta and was a Yoruba, the predominant ethnic group in Nigeria's southwest. Ige led the World Council of Churches' anti-racism campaign in the early 1970s and later became governor of Oyo State during Nigeria's previous period of civilian rule, 1979-83. He was generally well-liked by many of his fellow Yorubas but distrusted by some northerners for the years he spent campaigning against the northern-dominated military. As justice minister, he also drew criticism from some northern Muslims for statements against moves by several states to implement Islamic law. Ige also gained the wrath of state governments in the Niger Delta, where he was seen as responsible for a ruling that restricts the states' earnings from offshore oil drilling.
Daily Trust (Abuja) 4 Jan 2002 OPINION Exit of Exponent of Genocide By Hassan S. Indabawa The position of the Yoruba's, especially the Yoruba Christians in Nigerian politics since the 1953 constitutional conference has been the promotion of tribalism. The Yoruba leaders are renowned for the politics of ethnic bigotry which Egbe Omo Oduduwa, through the Action Group, UPN and down to Afenifere and AD in the present dispensation have projected. Chief Bola Ige, SAN who failed as the Minister of Power and Steel and the Goebbels of Afenifere, the Yoruba fascist group, has now been consumed by the hatred he has been spewing against the Hausa/Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria. Mr Ige popularly known as Uncle Bola was a genocide propagandist who called for the extermination of Northern Muslims. He was indisputably a leading anti-Islam, anti-Hausa/Fulani ideologue whose contempt for Islam is well documented. (See CEDDERT publication in 1999 titled: Chief Bola and the Destabilisation of Nigeria). Since Ige started writing his weekly column in the Sunday Tribune, he always spewed hatred against the Muslims. He was in the forefront in spearheading the Afenifere threat to put Nigeria on the "road to Kigali" - where about 800,000 Tutsi minorities were massacred in a short while. He used every opportunity to liken the Fulanis, to the Tutsis of Rwanda and Burundi. As the "Tutsis of Nigeria," he provocatively proclaimed that the Fulanis of Nigeria are likely to end up sharing the same chilling fate with the Tutsis of Rwanda! It is the fear of having racist and tribal bigots like Ige in the federal executive council that prompted an honest and frank response from Dr Abubakar Siddique in a letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo, also a Yoruba Christian on 3rd November 1999. This paper documents and analyses the role of Chief Bola Ige and his associates in the Destabilisation of Nigeria," said Dr Siddique. "His utterances and actions over the last few years and since his appointment as a minister, constitute one of the most sustained attempts to destabilise this country through the incitement of genocidal hatred against the Fulanis of Nigeria in particular, and Northerners in general," he added. Despite the "solid circumstantial evidence" presented to the president against the late Chief Bola Ige's politics and utterances, the president inexplicably refused to do this duty by overcoming these "evils" of destabilisation. This presumably emboldened Chief Bola Ige to proclaim to the world in an NTA programme that President Obasanjo is indeed implementing Afenifere agenda, not PDP's on whose platform he was elected. Chief Bola Ige (SAN) as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice did not hide his desire to stifle or possibly "kill" Sharia. In an economic blackmail, he and some notable Southern politicians founded an anti-Islamic group known as the "patriots." This group was reported to have "urged the federal authorities in the spirit of section 80(2) of the constitution to ensure that no money derived from the country's common revenue from oil from the South, and in particular revenue from VAT, including derivation from alcoholic drinks, is disbursed to Sharia states. They failed as they always do. The Cicero succeeded in destroying the credibility of the Nigerian judiciary. This he did by ethinicising and ensuring tribalism to be the major yardstick in dispensing justice to whom it was due. This can be buttressed by the parallel justice meted out to Al-Mustapha and co. all Northerners on the one hand, and Ganiyu Adams, a Yoruba thug, on the other. The whole world watched how our justice was bastardised by the actions of the racist and tribalistic bigots. It was widely reported that Bola Ige had a hand in the discharge and acquittal of Ganiyu Adams, despite being charged for "murder, arson, illegal arms possession " among other several criminal offences. It can be deduced that Ige was no more than an arch -tribalist, racist and genocidaire per excellence. He was a victim of his evil tactics and implacable hatred against certain groups of people simply because they differed in faith. His brutal end should serve as a lesson to those who aspire to destroy others in order to attain power. He who must destroy another in order to succeed must have destruction awaiting him at the post of his success. How apt.
The Nation (Nairobi) ANALYSIS 8 Jan 2002 Volatile Search for United Rwanda, By Charles Onyango-Obbo If Kenya holds its elections this year, and if the ruling Kanu loses, the new party will have to do it - change the currency and remove the bust of President Moi. It's a common chore for new African governments. Usually it's to take away the photo of the ousted despot or symbol of the fallen ruling party. When the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front won the guerrilla war in 1994, they did it. On December 31, 2001, for a New Year present, the government of President Paul Kagame went further. At a carefully orchestrated and well-attended event at Amahoro Stadium, it changed the Rwandese flag, national anthem, and coat of arms. Only the African National Congress in South Africa has had to go the same distance when it won elections with the end of apartheid, for nearly the same reasons. But that is where the similarities end. The ANC was a guerrilla force that took power through an election. The Rwanda Patriotic Front and its armed wing, the Patriotic Army, came to power after a blood-soaked rebellion that ended in a genocide where nearly one million Tutsi, and moderate Hutu were killed by the Interahamwe militia. Unlike South Africa, it took seven years to change the national symbols - and that, perhaps more than the change of flag and anthem - is puzzling about events in Rwanda today, and opens a window into the central African nation's unhappy past. The minority Tutsi formed the ruling, mostly cruel elite for generations in Rwanda until 1959 when they were ousted in a "social revolution" by a Hutu party which left 20,000 Tutsi dead and thousands more as refugees. In 1961 Rwanda was proclaimed independent by the Hutu party, the Parmehutu. Some of the delegates follow proceedings. The pogroms against Tutsi continued and by 1963, thousands more Tutsi had been killed and more than 200,000 had fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. These were the circumstances in which the Rwandese independence flag and anthem were born. The red in the old Rwanda flag was to symbolise the bloodshed by the Parmehutu militants for the "social revolution". Unusually, the old Rwandan anthem celebrated the heroism of the Parmehutu militants (abarwanasyaka). And it was perhaps the only anthem that mentioned and spoke of the country as a country of ethnic groups, Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Tough choices On the day the flags changed, Kagame came, saluted the old flag and anthem, before the new ones eventually went up. Later he was to tell this writer: "We had to respect and live with it for as long as it was the national flag and we had to do the same with the anthem". But clearly the RPF must have sensed that the change was a potential minefield. Kagame seemed to indicate this when he said: "There are some people who are attached to the old flag and anthem who will have trouble with the new one, but it had to change. "It was not a flag for all Rwandese people, and our generation has a responsibility to come up with something which includes everyone, and doesn't humiliate or elevate any Rwandan above the other," he said. If the blue, pale yellow flag with a rising sun, the new anthem proclaiming a beautiful Rwanda, and a coat of arms with an ICT symbol are mellow and cheerful, their authorship could not be stranger. Work on the new national symbols began in earnest in 1998. Not wanting it to be seen as a repeat of the victors turning their insignia into national symbols, Dr Joseph Nsegimana of the Liberal Party was picked to lead the flag and anthem committee. Dancers entertain guests. A national competition was held, and the winning inspiration for both the main inspiration for the anthem and flag came from very unlikely source - the former from a prisoner who is presently being held on genocide charges in Gitarama prison, and the latter from an ex-Rwanda Armed Forces officers who fought against the RPA. The genocide in Rwanda did three things. It scarred Rwanda deeply. It also, ironically, revealed how a few brave people did things that truly uplifted the human spirit. And, finally, the ferocity of the killings led us to take our eyes off the many "small things" that might have been the bigger causes of the violence. Rwanda is a poor country, and in the pre-1994 period, sometimes Western countries would pay salaries of civil servants for years. Partly because of that, rampant corruption, institutions that are taken for granted in other East African nations like the office of Auditor General did not exist in Rwanda. "There was a lot of resistance introducing the Auditor General's office, a big fight", Kagame says. Because there was an ethnic quota to control the number of Tutsi who gained education, Rwanda did not have a national examination board or national exams. This allowed headteachers to ensure that a version of history that reminded the Hutu of old Tutsi injustice was maintained, and to control admissions to keep the ethnic quota right. National curriculum and examinations boards were set up only after 1994. Many analysts believe that because there was no national curriculum, there was no bond that would have prevented, or reduced, the extent of the genocide when it broke out. The RPF was a government that held power because of its military might. In its first years it generally took a hard line against any form of dissidence. The prisons choked with hundreds of thousands of genocide suspects and talk of amnesty was considered to be madness. However, with the speed at which the courts were working, it would have taken 350 years to hear all the cases. When eventually the idea of pilot cases of amnesty was tried, they backfired. The people lynched some released suspected genocidaires. Some returned to prison as a safer place than the villages. In what is supposed to be a massive exercise to solve the backlog of genocide suspects, in September last year Rwandese elected 256,300 community judges to try the 120,000 genocidaires in Gacaca courts, a revived traditional system of justice, but which will use some modern forms of evidence assessment. Gacaca has been criticised from the left as kangaroo courts, and that they will not measure up to international standards of fair justice. From the middle, there are worries about whether the training of judges and the vast logistics needed will be found. From the right, both Tutsi and Hutu elements think there will be no justice with either collaborators who were elected judges letting fellow perpetrators off the hook, or survivor Tutsi judges sending innocent Hutu en masse to the gallows. Even President Kagame is wringing his fingers. For example, there was a spate of killings after the election of the judges of people who were likely to give evidence. "If courts let everyone free, or find everyone guilty, there could be problems," he said. Until it starts, there is no knowing how it will end, he added. The Arusha Accords, signed with the late President Juvenal Habyarimana government in 1993, form the Rwandan Constitution, dividing ministries, and all positions in government according to parties. So if Kagame has been praying, some of his prayers have been answered. The RPF is a minority party, though most influential party, in Parliament. It has, however, been able to cut deals with the other parties to pass its programme. When the crisis came up with then president, Pasteur Bizimungu, a leading RPF member in March last year, the RPF together with the mostly Hutu opposition votes was able to get a unanimous vote of 56 out of 56 MPs to vote for his resignation. The Rwandese invasion of Congo, and its subsequent clash with erstwhile staunch ally Uganda, also moved the RPF to more accommodationist politics, which saw the return to the political stage of its own moderates and more concessions to Hutu concerns. More Hutu politicians were elevated to senior political and military positions. More Tutsi from outside the Uganda-based refugee also came into government. Today, for example, the chief of Rwanda's National Security Council, Marcel Gatsinzi, is a Hutu. He was once Habyarimana's army chief of staff. Up to about three years ago, the military presence around Kagame was overwhelming. But times have changed. He travels in a three-car convoy. No one near him or in his entourage wears military uniform. A new confidence and even cockiness can be detected in the tone of some RPF leaders. Next year the country shall make a new constitution, and in 2003 there will be what Kagame says shall be a multi-party election, though he thinks the constitution should still have some elements ensuring broader representation. Once the RPF looked condemned to be a minority Tutsi regime ruling by the gun. Today it's contemplating political pacts with moderate parties that can deliver electoral victory. Recently Parliament passed a press law, which was designed to deal with journalists who participated, or indulge in reporting considered to promote genocide. Kagame refused to sign the law because he didn't think journalists needed to be singled out. "My view is that its better to have a genocide law that covers everyone, not one that target journalists only". The Arusha Accords were designed to control the ability of the president to bog down parliament. So rather than provide, as most laws do, that a presidential veto can be overruled by a new two-thirds vote in Parliament, in Rwanda the president is given 10 days to change his mind. If he or she doesn't, the law goes to the Speaker who signs it in law. The Speaker signed the media law. According to Kagame: "Rwanda's history is troubled partly because of laws that target specific groups. It was a wrong thing to do." Kagame says it's now been agreed that it will be brought back to Parliament and amended. "Many people in the world still see your government as nothing more than a Tutsi dictatorship that is lording it over the Hutu. They know little about all the changes you speak of," I tell Kagame. "Yes, but those who come see that is a very different place. Soon, enough people will come and go, and they'll tell thestory that there is a new Rwanda," Kagame said.
IRIN - Sierra Leone News Agency 7 Jan 2002 Over 45,000 ex-fighters hand in their weapons - Peace keepers registering combatants in Sierra Leone ABIDJAN, 7 Jan 2002 (IRIN) - Disarmament of former fighters under the Sierra Leone government's disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme has formally ended, UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) spokesperson Margaret Novicki told IRIN on Monday. Demobilisation was, however, continuing, she said. According to Novicki, 45,449 former combatants handed over weapons to the authorities between 18 May 2001 and 6 January 2002. The collection of weapons not covered under DDR was still going on under a community arms collection (CAC) programme, she added. The CAC, also set up by the government but coordinated by the police in conjunction with UNAMSIL, was continuing in an effort to "mop up" lethal weapons, such as shotguns, on a district-by-district basis, she said. So far 646 weapons and 23,525 rounds of ammunition had been collected. The large numbers of former fighters coming forward to disarm had led to some congestion and logistical problems in the demobilisation process, Novicki said. As a result, registration of ex-combatants at reception centres was still ongoing. In a related incident six Zambian UN peacekeepers in Tongo Field, eastern Sierra Leone, were killed on Saturday and twelve others wounded when a mortar bomb exploded. The accident occurred as the bombs, handed over during the disarmament exercise earlier in the day, were being moved to a weapons storage centre. The injured peacekeepers were being treated in Choithram hospital in the capital, Freetown, UNAMSIL reported. Meanwhile a UN team of legal experts sent to Sierra Leone to organise the setting up of a war crimes tribunal, was due to meet Attorney General Solomon Berewa on Monday, Novicki said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week authorised the establishment of the Special Court to try those responsible for rights abuses during the 10-year civil war.
Reuters 5 Jan 2002 UN Says Sierra Leone Disarmament All Complete FREETOWN - The United Nations' peacekeeping force said it had disarmed all but a few of Sierra Leone's remaining fighters on Saturday, allowing one of the world's poorest nations to begin recovering from a brutal civil war. Oluyemi Adeniji, the U.N.'s special representative in the West African country, confirmed the force had all but met Saturday's official deadline for disarming the tens of thousands of fighters who fought on both sides in more than ten years of civil war -- with just a few stragglers remaining. More than 42,000 fighters have handed in guns in the past year, but those in some eastern areas stopped disarming in December. Their decision followed bloody clashes in diamond centers, whose gems have funded the war, and forced the U.N. to extend its year-end deadline for completing the disarmament process. They resumed disarming after a local deal to stop illegal diamond mining. Adeniji said hundreds of Revolutionary United Frontrebels had turned out in recent days to lay down arms in the eastern diamond center of Tongo Field and the town of Kailahun. ``I am optimistic that disarmament will end officially now because of the massive turnout of the RUF in Tongo Field and Kailahun,'' Adeniji told Reuters late on Friday. ``There has been tremendous progress. Adeniji told BBC Radio's Focus on Africa program on Saturday that disarmament in those areas was continuing and would be completed as planned on Saturday, but some ''stragglers'' in other areas would be disarmed in the coming days. Francis Kai-Kai, of the National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, told Reuters top RUF officials would symbolically hand in their weapons in the next few days. REBUILDING NATION IS MASSIVE TASK Drawing a line under the civil war will be a mammoth task. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan authorized the creation of a special war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone last Thursday despite a huge shortfall in funding pledges. The court has the task of prosecuting about 20 alleged ringleaders of atrocities in the war, during which thousands of women and children had their hands and feet hacked off. A number of senior rebels, including RUF leader Foday Sankoh who launched the rebellion in 1991 and was finally captured after his forces flouted a peace deal in 2000, have been in detention without trial for well over a year. Former colonial power Britain, which helped secure the capital Freetown when rebels captured hundreds of peacekeepers in 2000, has trained up a new army to improve security. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May. Rebuilding the economic infrastructure is equally vital. After more than 10 years of war, Sierra Leone ranked as the worst place to live in terms of income, health care, life expectancy and education, according to the U.N.'s Human Development Report published in July. Hotels on picture-postcard beaches near Freetown have been looted or closed. One now houses victims of rebel atrocities. Adeniji's deputy, Alan Doss, has said Sierra Leone needs $700 million in aid a year in the immediate future to revive the economy, a sum equivalent to the annual budget of the U.N. mission.
BBC 5 Jan 2002, Fighters 'disarmed' in Sierra Leone The UN has been overseeing the programme By West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle If everything goes according to a United Nations plan, the last of some 40,000 combatants in Sierra Leone's vicious war will be handing over their guns on Saturday. After a decade of conflict that destabilised much of West Africa, Sierra Leone is entering a decisive year in a peace process which should see elections held in May. Foreign donors, led by the former colonial power Britain, have between them invested billions of dollars in the success of this process, and the end of disarmament is an important symbol of progress. Rebels need to be integrated into society However, some analysts say the peace process is being pushed too fast. They say the international community is keen to claim success in Sierra Leone as soon as possible, thereby facilitating withdrawal from an expensive involvement severely stretched by new military and humanitarian commitments to Afghanistan. This final phase of disarmament is taking place in the diamond-rich east of the country. Rebel heartland It is no coincidence that this is where the war began a decade ago. The lawless east is a place where battles erupted among corrupt politicians and warlords for gemstones which have long been the curse of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. British troops have helped keep the peace The disarmament programme that theoretically ends has been a qualified success. Tens of thousands of weapons have been collected and destroyed. The largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping operation in the world, plus military backing from Britain for the Sierra Leone Government army, has seen the military capacity of the rebels slashed. On a less optimistic note, some rebels and pro-government militiamen have yet to be disarmed, and even the most optimistic UN officials admit that both sides have hidden arms caches which might be used if the elections due in a few months time do not go well. But a spokesman for the UN said that if any combatants wanted to hand in their guns after the formal deadline they would still be able to do so. He added that the government would also continue to run a "community arms collection programme". Polls Many Sierra Leoneans also fear that the United Nations and individual foreign governments, led by the British, which have between them spent billions of dollars pulling Sierra Leone back from the abyss, might want to withdraw before lasting stability has been achieved. The rebels have committed many brutal atrocities On the other hand, the donors say Sierra Leone must avoid becoming totally dependent on external aid, or the country might never be able to stand on its own two feet. With presidential and parliamentary elections looming in a few months time, Sierra Leoneans are holding their breath. They are wondering whether their politicians are up to the task of conducting a free, and above all, peaceful poll.
Reuters 3 Jan 2002 Annan Approves War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone By Irwin Arieff UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday authorized a war crimes tribunal to be set up in Sierra Leone despite a big shortfall in funding pledges from the world body's member-nations. Annan said a U.N. planning mission would head to the Sierra Leone capital Freetown on Monday to launch the process of arranging premises for the special court, hiring local staff and beginning investigations. The tribunal's task would be to prosecute about 20 alleged ringleaders of the West African nation's decade-long civil war, which currently appears to be winding down. The U.N. Security Council voted to set it up in 2000 to try people charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international law. Sierra Leone's U.N. envoy Allieu Ibrahim Kanu, welcoming Annan's move, said the court could be ready to begin trying cases in about a year. "We are very committed to the court. The process has to commence," he told Reuters. "The political will and commitment of the international community are there to assist us." The war in the former British colony pitted government forces and militias against Revolutionary United Front rebels who seized control of the country's diamond-mining areas and became notorious for hacking off the limbs of women and children and enlisting thousands of child soldiers in their cause. The rebels fueled the fighting by selling diamonds they mined for arms. BIGGEST PEACEKEEPING OPERATION But after a disarmament agreement was reached in May, the United Nations has deployed its biggest peacekeeping operation across the country and collected the weapons of more than 40,000 fighters. The U.N. planning mission would remain in Freetown through Jan. 18 and culminate in the signing of an agreement between the United Nations and Sierra Leone establishing a legal framework for the tribunal's operations, Annan said in a letter to the Security Council. While U.N. members have donated nearly enough money to finance the first year of the tribunal's operations, pledges for its second and third years have fallen well short of the amounts required, Annan reported. So the United Nations may later have to mandate extra member payments to make up any shortfalls, he said. The world body has already slashed the court's budget from an original estimate of $114 million to $57 million for three years because of problems raising the funds. The problems arose because the United Nations insisted the court be financed through voluntary contributions rather than an assessment to all U.N. members, as was done for special tribunals hearing cases on the Balkan wars and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Donors have so far contributed $14.8 million toward the estimated $16.2 million needed for the court's first year. But just $20.4 million has been pledged of the $40 million needed for its second and third years.
BBC 7 Jan 2002 Ethiopian troops 'deploy' in Somalia Witnesses also saw battle wagons and supply vehicles An increasing number of Ethiopian military personnel are being reported moving into Somalia. Everybody knows that Ethiopia and Somalia have always had an unpleasant relationship Professor Abdi Ismael Samatar According to the latest reports, about 300 Ethiopian troops have deployed in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in northern Somalia. The troop movements are concentrated in Puntland and the neighbouring Bay region, as well as the town of Baidoa. Ethiopia has been supporting Somali factions opposed to the Transitional National Government of President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan. But it remains unclear what has driven the latest deployment, and the Ethiopian Government continues to deny having any troops in Somalia. Battle wagons The BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu said that according to eyewitnesses, about 300 well-armed Ethiopian soldiers arrived in Garowe, the regional capital of Puntland, in the early hours of Monday. A local businessman, who asked not to be identified, said he had seen 12 big trucks transporting uniformed infantry troops, as well as at least four battle wagons or armed pick-up trucks. The prime minister denies rumours of US payments to Ethiopian troops He also saw two lorries apparently carrying fuel, ammunition and spare parts. Another eyewitness said the convoy was led by a heavily guarded Ethiopian general who was closely protected. According to the witness, the general entered the building which has been used by Colonel Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed, the ousted president of Puntland. Clan elders elected Jama Ali Jama as the new head of Puntland late last year, but his appointment was immediately rejected by Abdullahi Yusuf, who drove Mr Jama from Garowe. Ethiopian denials Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia, Dina Mufti, told our reporter in Addis Ababa, Nita Bhalla, that there is no reason for Ethiopian forces to be inside Puntland or anywhere else in Somalia. Mr Mufti said: "We have been hearing these allegations for weeks now and this is merely an extension of the same. I can assure you that there are no Ethiopians in Somali territory". The spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs said any eyewitnesses were probably "mistaken". Diplomats however say there is a strong possibility that Ethiopian forces have been in Somalia for some weeks now. There is speculatation that Ethiopian soldiers are also in Baidoa, training militias of the opposition alliance faction the SRRC - Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council. Reports from Mogadishu said a new camp had been opened in Daynunay. Fears are also being expressed that Ethiopia is planning to attack the southern port town of Kismaayo with the help of SRRC militiamen. But again the Ethiopian Government denies these rumours and blames the interim government, with whom it continues to have a volatile relationship, saying they are spreading "malicious lies" about Ethiopia's policy towards Somalia. Somalia's interim prime minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, has also denied rumors that America is paying $200 to each militiamen trained by Ethiopians in Bay region.
Guardian (UK) 7 Jan 2002 Politics and principles The collapse of the rand means South Africans will pay dearly for their £4bn worth of arms. But profit may not be Britain's only motive, By Chris McGreal. Jack Straw heads to Africa later this month hoping that Tony Blair's pledge to revive the continent will have drawn more attention there than his decision to permit the sale of expensive British military technology to poor Tanzania. In South Africa, there is no confusion about Britain's priorities. Thabo Mbeki's government is under pressure at home to back out of a £4bn arms deal, including contracts to buy British-made fighters, because of the collapse of the rand. The government also faces a lawsuit from Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (Ecaar), which wants the arms deal ruled unconstitutional. In 1999, South Africa signed deals to buy $3.7bn worth of ships, planes and helicopters over 15-20 years. On top of that was a hidden bill of $2bn, some of it interest on money borrowed to pay British, German and other European manufacturers. Among the weapons are 52 Hawk trainer aircraft and Gripen fighter planes costing $1bn to be supplied by a consortium of BAe in the UK and Sweden's Saab. Before the contracts were finalised, South Africa's treasury warned the government that the purchases would be risky, and would eat up most of the increase in public spending, the money that could have built new homes, schools or clinics. The treasury warned that promises that the deal would bring in foreign investment were unenforceable, and said a collapse in the rand would have severe implications. The rand has collapsed, losing 40% of its value against the US dollar. The total cost of the arms deal, initially put at R30bn, has probably doubled because the contracts have to be paid in dollars, euros or pounds. The South African government ignored the warnings and went ahead with the deal. None of the western governments have proved willing to sacrifice the profits. Instead presidents and prime ministers have been mobilised to persuade South Africa, and Britain wheeled out the biggest of its guns - the Queen - to offer encouragement. The Germans and French lavished attention on influential ANC MPs. The arms manufacturers offered sweeteners. BAe donated about £500,000 to an ANC veterans' association. A German bidder sold luxury cars on the cheap to the ANC's chief whip in parliament and military officials. But the key tactic was to convince South Africa that it would make a huge profit from buying these weapons. Pretoria was persuaded that so-called off-sets and counter-trade would create 65,000 jobs and bring in R107bn in investment and exports. That is how the government sold the deal to the public, but it soon had to backtrack. Not long after the contracts were signed, the number of new "jobs" was halved and the cost in rand rose almost 50% - before the rand collapse. What the government did not explain to the public was why a poor country confronting the dire legacy of colonialism and apartheid needed such advanced weaponry. Mr Mbeki has argued South Africa needs to protect its waters from giant trawlers that loot fish around Africa's coasts, but he had repeatedly ignored questions as to why South Africa needs submarines. Who is going to invade by sea? What need is there for Hawk fighters and other planes from Britain at a cost of $1bn? There is instability and war in the region. Angola's conflict shows no signs of ending. The upheaval in the Congo will continue. But these are not serious threats to South Africa, which expects not a military invasion from Zimbabwe but hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence and hunger. Critics say that South Africa's real security issues are poverty, unemployment and Aids. Yet Britain and other western governments have encouraged it to spend several times its housing, health and education budgets on weapons. Western governments are usually embarrassed about weapons sales, but European administrations were key in putting together the "counter-trade" deals. They leant on them in other ways, too. South Africa's air force chiefs favoured an Italian firm to supply planes, and the Italians won on the criteria in the tenders. But Britain persuaded the then defence minister Joe Modise that there was more at stake than money or performance. He told a meeting of air force brass that it needed to take a visionary approach by ignoring costs in favour of promot ing South Africa's desire to be "part of the global defence market through partnership with major international defence companies". So BAe Hawks were bought at nearly four times the price of the Italian planes. Profit is at the heart of all of this, but there are other motives. The west is desperate to extricate itself from peacekeeping in Africa. Britain is locked into Sierra Leone, but that is straight-forward compared to the crises in Somalia, Rwanda and Congo. Blair said the west could not ignore another genocide like that which engulfed Rwanda, but western leaders would rather that African troops were despatched to deal with future problems. Although only the helicopters will be of any use for peacekeeping, a military that believes it has world-class weaponry is easier to cajole into action. The offsets are of dubious benefit. In November, BAe and Saab made a much-hyped $60m investment in a Mpumalanga timber mill - but most of the money came from South Africa's industrial development corporation. Critics point out that investment already on its way is easily labelled as new or additional money to give the impressions that it is part of a weapons package. The government can get out of some of the deal, when second part comes up in April - confirmation of the purchase of 31 aircraft. The political opposition and a leading business newspaper have asked the government to cut its losses and back out. But it seems unlikely. The government has not fought off accusations of corruption and mismanagement over its handling of the deal to surrender meekly to its critics. Chris McGreal is the Guardian's Africa correspondent
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare) 6 Jan 2002 Genocide Victims Want Mugabe Punished. Thabo Kunene Victims and survivors of the 1980s Matabeleland genocide have renewed their call for the arrest and prosecution of President Robert Mugabe and his security and defence ministers for crimes against humanity. The genocide victims who have been struggling to get compensation from the government, say once Mugabe leaves office or loses the March presidential election, he should be arrested and handed over to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands. They want the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader to suffer the same fate as former Yugoslav dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, who ruled his country with an iron fist, was handed over to the UN war crimes tribunal last year by the new rulers in Belgrade. The Standard last week spoke to Themba Mhlanga, the secretary of a Johannesburg-based group known as Survivors and Victims of Matabeleland Genocide. Mhlanga, who is also based in Johannesburg, was in Bulawayo for the Christmas and New Year holidays. "Our plans to file a lawsuit against Mugabe have reached an advanced stage and we have found a lot of support among human rights lawyers and individuals in South Africa," Mhlanga said. He said his group had also been in touch with the United Nations Human Rights Commission and international human rights lawyers who have all promised to assist the Matabeleland victims. Mhlanga who lost several relatives during the slaughter campaign in the 1980s, said Mugabe, who also held the defence portfolio during the genocide era, authorised the massacres of the Ndebele people who backed Joshua Nkomo's defunct Zapu party. "We are not going to let Mugabe and his commanders go free after he leaves office. He has to account for what he did in Matabeleland," added Mhlanga. He said the victims were suing the president as a group and not as individuals. Some of of the members of the group have been threatened by suspected Zimbabwean security operatives in Johannesburg. Mhlanga said his group now had 7 000 members, most of whom are based in South Africa. Two years ago, President Mugabe promised to compensate the survivors of the genocide but up to now nothing has materialised. Bishop Pius Ncube of the Roman Catholic Church in Bulawayo later criticised the president for playing with the emotions of the people of Matabeleland. The bishop was threatened with death by suspected state agents for demanding fair treatment of his tribesmen in Matabeleland. The slaughtrer of about 20 000 minority Ndebele inhabitants of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces took place between 1983 and 1987. Hundreds of other villagers and Zapu activists went missing during the slaughter campaign and many are presumed dead. Scores of others died of torture in detention and the culprits have never been brought to justice. The man who led the notorious army unit, the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, Perrence Shiri, was later promoted to Air Marshall by President Mugabe. His promotion angered the genocide victims and families of thousands who died during the brigade's occupation of the provinces. The late Nkomo himself, who was declared a national hero by Zanu PF, survived an assassination attempt by Mugabe's security agents and had to flee to Britain where Zimbabweans living in London paid for his accomodation after he had been told to vacate a flat owned by the late Tiny Rowland.
BBC 7 Jan 2002 Colombia's growing paramilitary force The AUC was born out of Colombia's drugs war By Jeremy McDermott in Colombia Formed in 1997, the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) like to trace their roots back to legal local self-defence groups formed under legislation passed in 1968, which allowed citizens to be used by the government to restore normality. The AUC is in conflict with the FARC - the country's largest guerrilla force But more accurately the AUC has its roots in the paramilitary armies built up by drug lords, most notably Jose Rodriguez Gacha of the Medellin cartel, and the AUC present leader's brother, Fidel Castano. As the drug lords became landowners, buying up vast tracts of Colombia - some 3.5 million hectares of agricultural land - they took over local self-defence groups and set up their own, to protect not the local population but their own interests. And as big landowners, they found themselves facing kidnapping and extortion by the country's Marxist guerrillas. Carlos Castano So when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped the father of Fidel and Carlos Castano and then murdered him, the family swore revenge. They have been taking it ever since, killing thousands of guerrillas and suspected rebels sympathisers. The AUC counts about 9,000 members Carlos Castano is the present head of the AUC - although officially, since May 2001, just its political head. He inherited his position from his elder brother Fidel, killed in a guerrilla ambush 1994. Carlos has built up the paramilitary force of 300 he inherited from his brother to an army of some 9,000 today. In 1997, he formed the AUC as an umbrella group under which all were welcome: local warlords, drugs traffickers and disaffected members of the security forces - in short anyone prepared to kill guerrillas. Paramilitary boom One of the main developments in the administration of President Andres Pastrana has been the explosive growth of the paramilitaries. The AUC has grown in strength and influence - due to links with the army and financing by business interests and landowners tired of guerrilla extortion. The failure of President Pastrana's peace process, the intransigence of the guerrillas and their abuse of government concessions have all fed the paramilitary coffers as Colombians see the state unable to defend them. The number of paramilitaries has grown under Andres Pastrana With this rise has come an increase in massacres, and the murders of left-wing intellectuals, union workers, human rights activists and journalists, as the right-wing death squads seek to silence all those that speak out against them, or in favour of the guerrillas. Working on the principle that draining the water will kill the fish, the paramilitaries have provoked massive displacement through their policy of massacres and terror. The locations may change, but the operating procedure remains the same. The death squads arrive in communities in areas of guerrilla influence with a list in hand. The list contains names of suspected guerrilla sympathisers. All those on the list are killed, usually in front of their families and in a most gruesome manner. The message is brutally simple: support the guerrillas and you will die. And it has had great effect in many parts of the country, "cleansing" them of guerrilla presence. But those that flee run into the arms of the rebels and Colombia's polarisation increases. Army links Like the guerrillas, the paramilitaries earn much of the money from drugs trafficking but, unlike the guerrillas, their history has been inextricably linked to drug barons across the country, which is still true today. There is an undeniable body of evidence that shows co-operation between army units and paramilitaries. The Colombian Government has worked hard to sever links between the military and the paramilitary death squads but these still exist and indeed groups like Human Rights Watch insist the ties are stronger than ever. Castano is now dedicating himself more to political and propaganda work and is determined to get recognition for his group and gain it a place at the peace table, to ensure he is included in any amnesty a peace agreement would entail.
BBC 10 Jan 2002 Colombia's peace process collapses The peace process has produced very little Colombian troops are preparing to retake control of a rebel-run enclave in the south of the country after the government broke off talks with the leftist group, ending a three-year peace process. I have to tell Colombians that the FARC keeps placing obstacles in front of the peace process President Andres Pastrana Bogota has given the 16,000-strong Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) until Friday night to leave a demilitarised area roughly the size of Switzerland The area, which has effectively been run by the rebels as its own Marxist state, was ceded to them in 1998 to kick-start the talks. President Andres Pastrana announced the end of the peace process in a nationally broadcast address to the nation on Wednesday night. Click here for a map of the demilitarised zone "Today I have to tell Colombians, with regret, but above all with realism and responsibility, that the FARC keeps placing obstacles in front of the peace process, making it impossible for us to keep advancing with the process. "The FARC has 48 hours, as agreed, to retire from the zone," he said, referring to the original timeframe for them to abandon the safe haven if talks failed. Pastrana has often swallowed his pride to deal with FARC He blamed the rebels for failing to discuss substantive issues like a ceasefire, and instead quibbling about military controls outside the borders of the safe haven. Chief peace negotiator Camilo Gomez has spent the past few days trying to revive the talks, which FARC walked out on three months ago in protest at military air patrols and restrictions on the zone imposed by the government. Sensing the final collapse of the talks on Tuesday, FARC had blamed any failure on the military and the government, and threatened to intensify the war. The country's civil war pits the FARC against the US-backed Colombian military and an outlawed right-wing military group. It claims roughly 3,500 lives each year. The peace process to end nearly four decades of war was started by President Pastrana, who has since dedicated much of his time in office to the job. The Colombian army is backed by the US military After three years of talks, the two sides have never reached a single agreement on a peace treaty, but correspondents say few people thought Mr Pastrana would abandon the negotiations so close to leaving office in August, after the next presidential elections. During three years of talks Mr Pastrana has frequently bowed to the rebels' demands and renewed their rights to the enclave, even after high profile killings - including the murder in September of the attorney general's wife and recent kidnappings of congressmen. In his address on Wednesday, Mr Pastrana said the search for peace had not ended. "I will maintain the doors of dialogue and negotiation open," he said.
WP 30 Dec 2001 Colombian Death Site Abandoned To Ghosts Village Still Inspires Fear By Scott Wilson, Page A22 CHENGUE, Colombia -- In the tiny, overgrown town square here, a few farmers gather each day to drink coffee from thermoses before heading into their groves of avocado and corn. After a few hours in the fields, they return to prepare their village for something that is still just a frightening notion -- living there. A dozen men who commute into the deserted Chengue, site of a massacre of 27 farmers nearly a year ago by Colombia's illegal paramilitary forces, have chipped away graffiti the killers left on the house where Videncio Quintana Mesa and his two sons lived before dying on the small terrace above the square. "We erased these words to forget this memory," said Julio Merino, who lost two nephews and four cousins in the massacre and who for the first time in his 64 years is not spending his nights in Chengue. "We plan to cover over all of it. But still my family won't come back for fear." A thatch of branches has been laid over the bloodstains on the square, covering the spot where most of the 27 victims were killed with rocks and a hammer in the cool hours before dawn on Jan. 17. Other than the handful of farmers, no one has returned to Chengue. The paramilitary group that carried out the killings, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, has a standing threat to kill anyone who does. So as night falls, the farmers head out along the rutted dirt road to the rented houses they share with more than 1,000 other displaced Chengue survivors, who await a return to what one avocado farmer described as "a fearful place." The fruit and vegetables they carry back from their fields in burlap sacks provide their only livelihood. The ghosts that swirl around this village 300 miles north of the capital, Bogota, are the same ones haunting efforts to bring peace to Colombia after nearly four decades of internal war. Events since the massacre help explain why a conflict dating to the Marxist revolutions of the 1960s continues to flourish today in an atmosphere of scant security for ordinary people, deep mistrust of government and impunity for those who commit Colombia's worst crimes. Over the past year, many of the people implicated in the massacre have seen their fortunes rise, while three members of the attorney general's team assigned to the case have been murdered or are missing. The United States, which is providing Colombia with a $1.3 billion aid package that mostly benefits the military, has unsuccessfully sought the firing of the regional military commander at the time of the killings. And government promises to help rebuild the ruined town have not been kept. Meanwhile, Chengue survivors await assurances that it is safe to return to their village, although many do not trust the Colombian military to make that guarantee. The military and the paramilitary forces that carried out the killings share a common enemy, leftist guerrilla groups, and in the days after the massacre, survivors accused the military of complicity in arranging safe passage to and from the village for the killers. As one corn farmer said, "We'd be happy if the military never came back. They, too, are our worst enemy." Despite peace talks and the U.S. aid package meant to attack the drug trade that helps fuel the war, the conflict has intensified in much of the country and will likely claim more than 3,000 people this year, the equivalent of seven World Trade Center attacks in proportion to Colombia's population. Chengue is located in the Montes de Maria, a strategic northern mountain range that has long been an important target on battle maps. Fighting has intensified here this year. The lush slopes continue to serve two leftist guerrilla groups as a military staging ground, a supply stop and a hiding place for kidnap victims. Arms and drugs pass through these mountains from the interior to the Caribbean Sea. The AUC began challenging its two principal leftist guerrilla adversaries, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), for control of the mountains last year. The strategy called for emptying towns that the guerrillas used to obtain food and intelligence. That was part of a larger paramilitary campaign that has helped drive 2 million Colombians from their homes. But of 28 paramilitary fighters captured in the region around Chengue this year, only one has been sentenced in connection with the case. Meanwhile, Salvatore Mancuso, then the leader of the paramilitary northern bloc that carried out the killings, has been promoted to military commander of the entire organization, which has at least 8,000 armed members. Two paramilitary bases near the town of San Onofre, 15 miles from Chengue, continue to operate largely untouched by military forces. At the time of the massacre, regional military officials said it resulted from a shortage of resources in a rugged 9,000-square-mile security zone where guerrilla and paramilitary troops outnumber the government's armed forces. The task is enormous for a thinly stretched infantry brigade that Defense Ministry officials say has done a "tremendous job this year against these paramilitary groups." "We should be talking more about the massacres that were prevented," said one Defense Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity. But while military patrols in the area have increased, including a new lookout post to monitor traffic into mountain villages, those who work the fields around Chengue say the soldiers have often seemed more menacing than protective. Troops have arrived three times, several survivors said, and seized shotguns that villagers said were used for hunting. "Our enemies have the guns, we don't," said a 70-year-old man who lost his brother in the killings and wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. "No one takes their guns away." Col. Alejandro Parra, commander of the Colombian navy's 1st Brigade, which is responsible for the region, said the only weapons seized from Chengue this year belonged to "guerrillas camouflaged in civilian clothing." He said that this year he had dismissed 12 members of the brigade holding the rank of sergeant and below for having links to paramilitary groups. He said security in the area "has notably improved" this year, despite his not having received any additional men or equipment. But it has not been safe to look into this crime. Prosecutor Yolanda Paternina was fatally shot on Aug. 29, and two undercover agents investigating the massacre disappeared in May at a paramilitary roadblock and are presumed dead. "There is a terror in this town over what has happened, but with our increased presence in many areas, I think the security is such that they can be guaranteed safe return," Parra said. "In every organization there are some bad members. We are taking care of ours." In the higher ranks, however, there has been resistance to such changes. According to a source involved in human rights work in Colombia, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has asked President Andres Pastrana twice this year to fire Adm. Rodrigo Quiñones, the officer nominally in charge of the region at the time. Those requests have been rebuffed, according to this source. U.S. Embassy officials said they could not discuss conversations between the ambassador and Colombian officials. The Defense Ministry also declined to comment. But in early December, Quiñones was reassigned from his post as the navy's second in command to be vice director of the Advanced War College, a position with no operational authority. The transfer came less than a year after his promotion to the navy high command. A successful field and intelligence officer, Quiñones has been followed by allegations of human rights abuses throughout his career. He has called the allegations part of a campaign for his removal engineered by a powerful cocaine cartel, but the controversy has not prevented him from reaching high rank. Although he is still a target of an inspector general's investigation into the massacre, an internal armed forces review of the case that relied on interviews with military officials cleared him and several other officers. "What makes this conflict so complicated is that people don't want to see the truth, and so they lie," said Quiñones, a former seminary student who trained for seven months with the U.S. Marines in Quantico, Va., in the late 1970s. "Instead of finding out the truth, there is only more hate," he said in an interview. More than 1,000 people have died this year in Colombia in massacres by paramilitary forces, according to Defense Ministry estimates, and the lingering threat to kill anyone who returns to Chengue has kept the town empty. Chengue's survivors are now scattered across Colombia's north coast. In Ovejas, the municipal seat two hours away, officials have struggled to absorb a forced displacement from many areas that has swelled the town's population by 10 percent. Food, medicine and jobs are scarce. Providing rent subsidies, basic medical treatment and food is consuming large portions of the town budget. In the days following the massacre, Vice President Gustavo Bell traveled to a nearby military base and promised sufficient government resources to "rebuild Chengue." Since then, officials in Ovejas say, they have sent two letters a week to Pastrana's office and the government's relief network asking for help. All have gone unanswered. "After all the promises, the government hasn't complied in any way," said Humberto Perez, chief of planning for Ovejas. "We're not permitted into the area [around Chengue] by the armed groups. So we trust the people who once lived there to tell us whether or not it's safe to go back. Now it is not." At year's end, Chengue, which is really just a dip in a dirt road lined with thatch and concrete houses, has traditionally become the locus of New Year's Eve celebrations in the area. Children of the Oviedo, Lopez and Merino families, the three clans that have grown shiny, sweet avocados in these hills for generations, would burn the "old year" in effigy, eat pork and peasant soup, and drink cane liquor until sunrise. This year, villagers will remain far away, living eight to a room in forced exile. But the leftist guerrillas whom the paramilitary sought to chase out have already returned, even though there is, in the words of one farmer, "nothing for them here." Next to chipped "AUC Special Forces Northern Bloc" graffiti on the house where Pedro Barreto lived before his death, the words "FARC Present" have been carved into the wood. A walk around the village shows a community life suspended. The two-room school still has lessons written in pink chalk on the blackboard. A mural outlining the "rights of a child" in cartoon figures faces a wall where "No Future" has been scrawled in Spanish in yellow chalk. Ramon Oviedo Merino, a 50-year-old farmer who lost a cousin and a nephew, worries about how he will pay university tuition for his two children, one studying to become a veterinarian, the other a psychologist. Marlena Lopez, whose three brothers, nephew and brother-in-law were killed and whose pink house was burned, sells homemade cakes door to door in Ovejas to help support her 87-year-old mother. The two women live there with children and grandchildren in a small, tidy house. A talking parrot climbs the palm and banana trees in the courtyard out back. "I don't know if I'd go back even if I could," Lopez said with tears in her eyes.
IPS 3 Jan 2002 Truth Commission Gets Off to Slow Start, say Activists By Abraham Lama, Inter Press Service LIMA, Jan 2 (IPS) - The Truth Commission set up in 2001 in Peru to investigate the political violence that led to the killing and forced disappearance of nearly 29,000 people over the past 20 years has been slow in getting off the ground, according to human rights groups. The commission was created to investigate human rights abuses committed in the context of the armed forces' fight against two insurgent groups, which were also rivals: the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the smaller Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), a Marxist group. The Truth Commission was created on Jun 2 by the caretaker government of Valentín Paniagua, which governed in the transition period between the November 2000 fall of Alberto Fujimori (1990- 2000), who was given asylum in Japan, and the Jul 28 swearing-in of President Alejandro Toledo. The chair of the Truth Commission, a former rector of Lima's Catholic University, Salomón Lerner, said it was not the commission's job to impose sanctions, but to ''act with the purpose of purifying the national conscience, and to bring to light what was hidden.'' The Commission is made up of two Catholic priests, an evangelical pastor, and six representatives of civil society. Among the members figure retired air force general Luis Arias Graziani and the former rector of the Huamanga Alberto Morote University, the brother of a Sendero Luminoso leader who is now in prison. Arias Graziani and Morote are seen basically as representatives of the armed forces and Sendero Luminoso, respectively. The first step taken by the commission was to clearly define the period to be considered. Some political parties wanted it to cover only the years of the authoritarian Fujimori regime, from 1990 to 2000, arguing that the governments of Fernando Belaunde (1980-85) and Alan García (1985-90) were democratic. But that argument was ruled out, given that just 26 percent of a total of 6,200 forced disappearances took place during the 10 years Fujimori was in power, compared to 47 percent during Belaunde's five-year term and 27 percent under García. The group also decided to extend its investigations to November 2000, when Fujimori was removed from office by Congress, despite the fact that Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA were officially declared defeated by the government in 1998. The Truth Commission is just now getting to work, this week, although preliminary contacts have been made with the families of the disappeared and survivors of massacres. Next Saturday and Sunday, the commission will meet in Lima with the coordinators of its regional and local offices, to launch the investigations, one of the commission's members, Carlos Tapia, told IPS. Tapia is a former leader of the United Left Front and the director of a group that provides support to people displaced by the civil war, who want to return home. Ernesto de la Jara, with the Legal Defence Institute, complained of the inoperativeness of the commission, ''a year into the transition to democracy, and after the Inter-American Court on Human Rights already nullified Fujimori's amnesty for members of the military implicated in crimes against humanity. ''The biggest threat to human rights is indifference, and the tendency to forget that we live in a society where we are all responsible,'' he added. Catholic priest Hubert Lanssiers, the chairman of the Commission of Pardons, said that ''if we put the principle of solidarity into practice, we will grow.'' According to human rights activist Susana Villarán, a former minister of women's affairs, ''advances have been made, but the bodies in charge of guaranteeing the rights of citizens, such as the judiciary and the police, are not doing their job. ''But even more serious to me is the lack of a culture of protection of rights and of accountability. Education is essential in bringing about the desired cultural changes,'' she said. Ana María Yánez with the Manuela Ramos women's movement said ''the years of dictatorship remind us that the state, rather than protecting civil rights, can be the biggest corrupting agent, trampling human rights. Now we hope the state will assume its role as the defender of social rights.'' Four groups will carry out the Truth Commission's work. The first will analyze the structural-historical causes of the insurgency and the rights abuses, such as poverty, inequity, and political, ideological and educational reasons. It will also study the political motives of the government, political parties and the irregular armed groups during the period under consideration. The second working group will have the task of reconstructing the circumstances under which the human rights violations and crimes were perpetrated, including the reconstruction of personal histories, the taking of testimony, and in-depth studies into each case. The third group will reflect on the damages caused to society, and come up with a set of recommendations for moving towards reparations and reconciliation. The last group will design and lead programs of citizen participation and education, aimed at giving rise to a national movement towards peace and reconciliation among Peruvians. Each working group will be supervised by a member of the commission, and will have the support of teams made up of professionals from diverse disciplines, like anthropologists, historians, psychologists, social workers and journalists. Javier Ciurlizza, the executive secretary of the commission, said four regional offices and 14 local offices had been set up throughout the country, involving around 150 people and a 2002 budget of six million dollars - a sum that the commission hopes will increase thanks to international donations. The world's first truth commission was created in Uganda, to investigate the fate of hundreds of victims of forced disappearances committed between 1971 and 1974. Years later South Africa followed suit, to clarify crimes committed under apartheid, the system of racial segregation that remained in place until 1994. In Latin America, truth commissions were set up in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala, while the one put together in Uruguay is still functioning. The government of Paraguay also decided to establish a commission, although it has not yet done so, while similar groups created on the initiative of human rights organizations functioned in Brazil and Bolivia without a legal mandate.
Japan Times 11 Jan 2002 Fujimori gives lecture at university in Tokyo Alberto Fujimori, Peru's disgraced former president, made his first public appearance in 14 months Thursday, delivering a lecture at Takushoku University in Tokyo. Fujimori, who fled to Tokyo in November 2000 amid a corruption scandal involving close aide Vladimiro Montesinos, recalled how he succeeded in hunting down terrorist groups during his 10 years as president. He did not comment on the number of charges he faces back home. Among the allegations brought against him are dereliction of duty as president and sanctioning the massacre of citizens suspected of cooperating with leftist guerrilla groups. Outside the university entrance, about 20 demonstrators, mostly Peruvians, chanted calls for Fujimori to go back home and face trial, while student groups protested against the university for inviting Fujimori to speak there. "Fujimori has no pride at all," said Miguel Kikuchi, a 30-year-old Peruvian of Japanese descent who has been living in Japan for 11 years. "He is a Peruvian, and he must go back home and face trial." Kikuchi also said many Peruvians in Japan feel irritated with the Japanese government for protecting Fujimori. "Why do they keep Fujimori here? He is a criminal." University officials defended their invitation to the scandal-tainted ex-president. "What is going on in Peru is nothing that a private university in Japan should be involved in," professor Toshio Watanabe told reporters after Fujimori's lecture. "Japan has freedom of speech. We believe we should give someone like Mr. Fujimori an opportunity to speak." Watanabe added that the university has a long history of development studies in Asia and Latin America, and that it had wanted to invite Fujimori since he became president. During the 90-minute lecture, conducted in Spanish and translated into Japanese, Fujimori described how terrorist groups in Peru brutally killed poor citizens, illustrating his talk with video footage. "But in the 1990s, things changed," he told the capacity crowd, mostly students. "In small villages far from the city, people saw the president suddenly come to them in a helicopter and offer a hand of help for wives who lost their husbands to terrorists . . . and build schools that were destroyed" by the terrorists. Fujimori said his government built 3,000 new schools, mainly with Japanese aid, and developed basic infrastructure in rural areas. He denied allegations that he pocketed some of the money for those works. "I have done nothing dirty regarding money transactions," he maintained. He also said his government succeeded in intercepting terrorists' radio and telephone messages, which effectively led to the arrests of most terrorist leaders by the late 1990s. Peru has demanded that Japan hand over Fujimori. Tokyo, however, has maintained it cannot extradite the former president because he is a Japanese citizen and that there is no extradition treaty between the two nations. Fujimori, who was dismissed by Peru's Congress as "morally unfit" to govern after his resignation was rejected, indicated that he would stay in Japan. "The crisis for the president who fought terrorism is not over," he said. Fujimori did not touch upon the 1996 hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, and there was no question and answer session following his lecture.
AP 9 Jan 2002 Muslims demand inquiry into Afghan 'massacres' Representatives of more than 50 Islamic countries have asked the UN to investigate the deaths of hundreds of foreign captives in Afghanistan. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference said its Secretary-General has demanded an inquiry into the alleged massacre in northern Afghanistan in November. A letter to UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan said Islamic nations are concerned about the deaths of prisoners who surrendered to the Northern Alliance only after assurances they would be well treated and handed over to the UN. It said that in a written reply to Mr Abdelouahed Belkeziz, Mr Annan noted the United Nations had no presence in Afghanistan at the time of the three-day uprising among prisoners at a fortress near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. He said the UN would assist the interim Afghan administration to form an independent human rights council, whose responsibilities would include investigating human rights violations. But Mr Annan warned the human rights council would not immediately be capable of investigating events as complicated as the prison uprising, the statement said. Hundreds of captives - most of them non-Afghan Taliban fighters taken prisoner after the fall of Kunduz - died during a three-day uprising at Qalai Janghi fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif. Mrs Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and former President of Ireland, has also called for an investigation, suggesting international human rights groups may be able to carry it out. The US and Britain have dismissed the idea of an inquiry.
AP 10 Jan 2002 Skeletons Found in Afghan Valley ADRESKAN, Afghanistan (AP) — A tip from a shepherd led Afghan officials Thursday to what they say is the scene of a 1999 Taliban massacre of 72 people falsely accused of fanning a short-lived revolt in western Afghanistan. The valley was scattered with skeletons and skulls, and the wrists of some of the remains were bound by green nylon rope. Bones, walking sticks, scraps of clothing, even an artificial leg can be seen half-buried in the mud. Mousa Rezaie, a representative in Herat province of Hezb-e-Wahadat, a minority Shiite Muslim group that opposed the Taliban, said people living in the area had known about the killings of prisoners taken from the Adreskan jail in 1999, but did not know where their bodies could be found. He said a shepherd provided information that led searchers Wednesday to a remote valley near Adreskan, about 75 miles south of Herat, the main city in the province of the same name. About a dozen armed Hezb-e-Wahadat fighters stood guard as the remains were collected and placed in white shrouds. Rezaie said he would try to identify the dead by checking Taliban records, but that he expected most would be buried as ``unknown martyrs'' in a funeral Friday in Herat. ``We are searching for more,'' said Rezaie, explaining there were many reports of extrajudicial killings by the hard-line Taliban throughout Herat. The Taliban were toppled in Herat and across Afghanistan last year as opposition forces took advantage of U.S. bombing launched because the Taliban were accused of harboring the main suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington. Hoji Anwar Tavakolli, who was among the searchers Wednesday, said he had been held in the Adreskan prison for anti-Taliban activities when a group of 74 prisoners was brought in. He said they were deported from neighboring Iran, where many Afghans had gone to escape war and harsh economic conditions. They had the misfortune, he said, to have been sent back across the border during an uprising against the Taliban. Two of the group, which included people from all over Afghanistan, were killed in the prison and the rest were taken away, Tavakolli said. He said he was released soon afterward and heard from a local shepherd that the 72 people who had disappeared from the prison had been trucked in a group to a valley and killed. It was not clear how they died. Tavakolli said he and others asked permission to recover the bodies and bury them, but Taliban officials responded: ``Leave them to the animals.'' Once the Taliban fell, Tavakolli said, he searched for and found the shepherd who had told him about the killings.
WP 10 Jan 2002 Villagers, U.S. At Odds Over Lethal Bombing Residents Say Al Qaeda, Taliban Were Never There By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, January 10, 2002; Page A01 QALAI NIAZI, Afghanistan, Jan. 9 -- The U.S. bombs that blasted this clump of mud-brick homes a few hours before dawn on Dec. 29, killing dozens of civilians, were aimed at Taliban and al Qaeda leaders who survivors deny were ever here, and an arms cache they say they never saw. What remains in view is the tattered evidence of a little world blown apart: • Wads of bloody hair and flesh ground into the parched, cracked earth. • Children's rubber shoes with tiny red pompoms scattered in the rubble of blasted-out houses. • Strips of women's party dresses -- red, blue and yellow -- twisted around the debris. • Tunnel-like holes more than 30 feet deep, apparently the result of bombs that burrowed for bunkers or underground chambers that are nowhere to be seen. Journalists who arrived here on Sunday found a large store of ammunition that filled one little house, from boxes of rifle rounds to stacks of antitank rockets. But, by today, it had been hauled away, and people now swear it was never here in the first place. There is much that is not known -- and maybe never will be -- about what happened that December night and what caused it to happen. But from conversations with people in the area today, this much seems established: Burhan Jan's 15-year-old son, Inzar, married a local girl about his age, and people came to Qalai Niazi from miles around for the wedding. About 3:30 a.m., while the family and their guests slept in the largest house after an evening of celebration, the U.S. planes attacked. After an initial series of blasts in which men, women and children died, people fled in panic out of Qalai Niazi, which is located north of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province. Then more bombs fell, killing a dozen other people as they moved across the barren landscape. Bai Jan, 45, an elder in a neighboring village who helped pick up the mangled bodies that morning, estimated 80 people were killed. Khanzad Gul, a Russian-trained physician who runs the hospital at Gardez, estimated the number of victims at 100. The United Nations put its estimate at 52. By any of those tallies, the bombing here would likely constitute the deadliest civilian toll from a single U.S. attack since the Bush administration launched its war on Afghanistan on Oct. 7. The Pentagon said it was acting on intelligence that Taliban and al Qaeda leaders were in Qalai Niazi. It also mentioned the arms store, saying a surface-to-air missile was fired at the U.S. warplanes on the bombing runs, but would not confirm reports of civilian casualties. "There were multiple intelligence sources that qualified that target, and there were multiple secondary explosions out of that target," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week. "That is to say, significant explosions from more than one location as a result of the attack, which would tend to persuade one that it was a military target." Local people, however, said no Taliban or al Qaeda militants were in the village, although some wedding guests were from the former Taliban strongholds of Khost and Jalalabad. There never were many foreign al Qaeda fighters in this region, the residents said, and Taliban activists fled south toward Kandahar soon after Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance in November. "There was nothing of the Taliban here," Jan said. "All around, there was nothing left of them." Gul, the Russian-trained doctor who treated one of three wounded survivors, noted that most men in this heavily Pashtun region wear full beards and the same traditional turbans that the Taliban made its trademark. But that does not make them Taliban leaders, he added. "If they say that anybody who grows a beard is a Taliban or an al Qaeda member, they should take me, but in fact I am a medical doctor who studied in Russia," he said. "It was just a misunderstanding," said Noor Mohammed, a nurse at the hospital. "They thought there were some al Qaeda members living over there. But when the new government took over, all the Taliban ran away from here." The people of this area got along with the Taliban during its five years of rule; however, some members of the new local governing council, or shura, were also part of the Taliban's local administration. Following the Afghan tradition of getting on the side of whoever holds power, they have renounced their Taliban adherence, at least formally, and have begun to cooperate with the new administration in Kabul. Although U.S. Special Forces troops have conducted searches in this region for Taliban and al Qaeda militants, most of the bombing in recent weeks has taken place about 50 miles to the east, south of Khost, near the border with Pakistan. It is not known who controlled the ammunition stored in one of Qalai Niazi's five buildings. But reporters saw it stacked there Sunday; today it was gone and residents said there never was such a cache. Previously, residents had told investigators for a nongovernmental organization that Taliban fighters stored the ammunition there and left it when they fled. Whatever the exact tally of dead, and whatever the quality of the U.S. intelligence that night, the bombing has taken its toll on the goodwill of people around Qalai Niazi toward the U.S. military campaign. There was no reason to bomb the wedding party, they said, and the Pentagon should own up to a mistake. "We picked up small pieces of people's bodies," said Jan, reaching down to the ground and digging into it with his hennaed nails to pantomime his gruesome task that morning. "And we put them in the ground so the dogs would not eat them." Holding up a bit of blood-matted hair, he said: "The bombing should stop. Where can we go? "Look at these shoes," he moaned, lifting a part of plastic slip-ons that looked right for a 10-year-old girl. "Are these Taliban shoes?" All five of the houses in the village were reduced to rubble. A metal trunk used to store clothes was perforated with shrapnel. A man's woven cap, the kind Afghans wrap their turbans around, lay crumpled in the dust. A paperback book on the proper way to conduct Islamic prayer, titled "The Purity of Truth," flapped in a cold wind coming off mountains dappled with the season's first snow. In the debris, scattered atop a layer of fine dust, lay a nylon bag used for grain or flour. "USA," said letters in red, white and blue. "USAID," it read just above the image of a handshake symbolizing U.S. foreign aid. One of the bombs that burrowed into the ground created a deep hole exactly in the path of an aqueduct. As a result, the water coming down from the mountains now drops into the hole, cutting off the water supply to nearby villages whose normal sources have dried up because of a long drought. A group of elders from the Gardez region took their complaints to Hamid Karzai, head of Afghanistan's interim administration in Kabul. Karzai promised to look into the incident but also has backed U.S. resolve to continue the air attacks until all Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are killed or captured. President Bush's special Afghanistan envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the United States is investigating what happened here and will take "appropriate steps" if a mistake is found to have been made. But, addressing reporters in Kabul on Tuesday, he also said the bombing must continue until al Qaeda and the Taliban are eliminated from Afghanistan.
Inter Press Service 27 Dec 2001 Fears Rise of New, Uglier 'White Australia' Policy By Kalinga Seneviratne, - Media debate here about the economic and social costs of immigration is rekindling suspicions that the government of Prime Minister John Howard may be quietly considering the re- introduction of some sort of a 'White Australia' policy. • ''Despite what a few hyperbolic types might allege, the 'White Australia' policy is dead and gone,'' said Dr Gerard Henderson, executive director of the Sydney Institute, writing in 'The Australian' recently. ''However, if influential Australians have their way, it might soon be replaced by a Muslim Immigration Restriction Act or perhaps, a Judeo-Christian Australia policy.'' Australian diplomats and politicians, however, will be quick to dismiss such suggestions, even pointing out that Pauline Hanson's racist One Nation Party was soundly beaten in the November polls. But the fact is that in order to win back voters from the far right anti-immigration party, Howard's anti-immigration rhetoric reflected very much the platform of One Nation. He even went as far as suggesting during the campaign that some of the boat people from Iraq and Afghanistan whom Australia has refused to let in could be terrorists. In order to protect Australia from ''international terrorism'', the issue of resurrecting some sort of a 'White Australia' policy is been quietly raised through the media, with a subtle economic focus given to it. Until the mid-1970s, Australia had a policy that specified that only those with European ancestry could migrate to Australia. It was designed to stem the ''yellow peril'' -- the possibility of large numbers of Asians, especially Chinese, flocking to Australia. Now, some respected economists, sociologists and influential media commentators are openly debating economic arguments to justify the re-introduction of a discriminatory immigration policy. For instance, Wolfgang Kasper, emeritus professor of economics at the University of New South Wales, argued that because ''no community can function effectively without shared institutions or values'', immigrants should be screened for their ability to be part of these factors in Australia. Writing in the November issue of the 'Quadrant' magazine, Kasper added that a set of shared institutions and values are precious social capital. He noted that although all people may be equal, they carry deeply held cultural and institutional baggage of greater or lesser value for life in Australia. ''Of the various institutional systems developed by man, probably none is more resistant to accepting new ground rules than the Middle Eastern tradition. This is not a consequence of biology and race, but of environment and race,'' said Kasper, arguing that this means Middle Eastern migrants can have friction with ordinary Australians. Thus, Kasper called for Australia's immigration policy to be restructured to include a selection criteria that have to ''measure the readiness or otherwise of newcomers to fit in with our open society''. Another key figure to join in the debate is John Stone, former secretary to the treasury and ex-senator of the National Party. He was a member of the shadow Cabinet in 1988, when the then opposition leader Howard raised the issue of restricting Asian immigration. Stone was one of his strongest supporters in the shadow ministry. In an article in 'The Australian' entitled, 'We only want those who are prepared to be like us', he called for a new immigration policy that discriminates not on the basis of race but culture. Stone said: ''Australians must fundamentally rethink the stupidities which for 20 years now have dominated our immigration policies and, along with them, our official policies of multi-culturalism.'' He defines multiculturalism as ''non-assimilation'' to the mainstream culture. ''Our future immigration policy should have nothing to do with immigrants' skin colour or ethnicity,'' added Stone. ''It should have everything to do with whether those concerned are capable of assimilating into Australia's basically Judeo-Christian culture, and disposed to do so.'' Espousing the theory of the superiority of the European Judeo- Christian culture over all others, he added: ''All cultures are not equal, and it is ridiculous (and since September 11th much more dangerous) to keep insisting that they are.'' Sydney Institute's Henderson disagrees, pointing out that Muslims have been in Australia since 1860. While the Islamic population has been growing rapidly in the last 20 years, majority of them are not Arab, and majority of the Arabic immigrants are not Muslims, he explains. ''It is reasonable to expect that all Australian residents -- whether of the Judeo-Christian culture or otherwise -- obey our laws and respect our pluralistic traditions. For most parts this has been the case,'' observed Henderson. This latest bout of nostalgia for the less complicated times of the 'White Australia' policy by the country's conservative white establishment has been triggered by the Howard government's refusal lately to allow Middle Eastern and Afghan asylum seekers to land on Australian soil. The government's rhetoric has been uncomfortably close to that which was used to shut out non-white immigrants from Australia for most of the 20th century. But former human rights and equal opportunities commissioner Chris Sidoti says that groups trying to change the Howard government's stance on asylum seekers have been wasting their time. He suggests that they should focus on changing community attitudes. ''I don't think we've got yet the answer to how those kinds of fears can be laid to rest, but certainly we've wasted a hell of a lot of time in trying to persuade this government to change its policy,'' Sidoti said at the launch of the Australian Human Rights Register earlier this month. The register accused the Howard government of subjecting asylum seekers to violence and encouraging xenophobia with its policy toward boat people. Sidoti says that the alternatives to detaining asylum seekers, proposed by non-government bodies, have been ignored by the government. ''That was a miscalculation, a strategy that has not worked,'' he said. ''We should spend more time talking to the community.'' A report released by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in December says that the level of racism against those who do not fit into the stereotype of the 'typical Australian' was increasing across Australia. Since the Sep. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, reports of cases of racism against all ethnic communities have increased, adds the report.
The Courier Mail (Australia) 5 Jan 2002 Elders seek royal apology Chris Griffith INDIGENOUS leaders want the Queen to apologise during her Australian tour because Aborigines were used as human ornaments during a royal tour of Queensland at the turn of the last century. Photos gathered by Brisbane historian Duncan Waterson show Aborigines with spears standing on an arch in George Street, Brisbane, with an arrangement of ferns, tea-tree bark and a stuffed emu and kangaroo forming the Queensland coat-of-arms. Aborigines stood on each side of the arch and, at each end, there were two gunyahs with women and children seated inside wearing emu feathers and kangaroo skins. The Aboriginal structure was built to impress the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, later George V and Queen Mary, as they rode through Brisbane in May 1901. But Brisbane Ngugi elder and Brisbane Citizen for 2001 Bob Anderson said the arches were "patronising, bloody demeaning and condescending" and depicted Aborigines as "ignorant native savages". Dr Anderson said the Queen could apologise both for the arches and the suffering Aborigines endured under the British Empire. ATSIC deputy chairman Ray Robinson also said the British monarchy should apologise for what he said was the "genocide" suffered by Aborigines. Bob Weatherall, FAIRA Aboriginal Corporation's cultural officer for repatriation of remains, said the Queen also could play an influential part in promoting legislation in Britain to allow its Natural History Museum to return more remains of Aborigines "hunted down by the British for their body parts". The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, which represents descendants of extinct Tasmanian Aborigines, said a formal royal apology would be welcome but was sceptical it would carry much weight. Historian Ross Fitzgerald said he found Waterson's photos while researching his book, The Federation Mirror, which compares Queensland in 1901 with 2001.
AP 7 Jan 2002 Cambodian Students Beaten Up By KER MUNTHIT, PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Government supporters attacked a small group of students who protested celebrations Monday of the anniversary of Vietnamese military intervention that ended Cambodia's genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. About 10 students from the Democratic Front of Khmer Students and Intellectuals gathered in front of Cambodia's National Assembly and tried to hand out leaflets. They contended that the invasion of Vietnamese troops who ousted the Khmer Rouge on Jan. 7, 1979, began a decade-long period of Vietnamese aggression and occupation of Cambodia. Young government supporters beat some of the students and randomly searched and threatened onlookers they accused of sympathizing with the Khmer Rouge. There were no injuries. ``Do you want to bring the Khmer Rouge back to kill Khmer people again, huh?'' Yi Mao, the leader of the pro-government group, shouted at a protester. Yi Mao's group, which also claimed to be made up of students, then punched and kicked the protester and chased down and beat three others before the protesters managed to flee on motorcycles. The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 until the invading Vietnamese army, joined by Cambodian resistance forces, drove them from power. Their radical agrarian policies and autocratic rule led to the death some 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. But the presence of Vietnamese troops in Cambodia for the following decade was resented by many Cambodians who have accused Vietnam of occupying and plundering their country. ``Vietnam used Jan. 7 as an excuse of liberating Cambodia to kill many Cambodians,'' said Phang Vannak, 29, who was beaten by the government supporters. Although it is a national holiday, the annual celebration is controversial and mostly confined to the headquarters of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, or CPP. Its leaders were at the forefront of the anti-Khmer Rouge resistance. ``The victory on Jan. 7 rescued the nation from death and led the country on a march on the right path,'' CPP President Chea Sim said in a speech to about 3,000 people at the event Monday.
Kyodo News (Japan) 7 Jan 2002 Khmer Rouge military chief Ta Mok wants his 'day in court' PHNOM PENH, Jan. 7, Kyodo - Detained former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok wants to answer to criminal charges before a tribunal, the opening of which has been on hold over differences between Cambodia and the United Nations, his lawyer said Monday. ''Ta Mok told me that he wants to be tried early by the court of law so that he could directly answer to the charges. He said he knew nothing (about the crimes) because he was a military leader. He knew only military affairs,'' Benson Samay said. Ta Mok, facing genocide and crimes against humanity charges, insists the mass killings during the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia were ordered by the top leader, Pol Pot, who died three years ago. His lawyer said the U.N. should compromise with the government to expedite the trial process for the 73-year-old military chief. The world body and Cambodia have agreed to work together in setting up a U.N.-assisted tribunal to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, but the trial process has been stalled over foreign participation. The detention period for Ta Mok will expire March 6 this year. Benson Samy said he would seek the release of his client if legal action is not taken against him by then. Ta Mok was arrested March 6, 1998, and has been detained in Phnom Penh since. Pol Pot, who died in 1998, and his senior colleague Ieng Sary, who remains free under the terms of a deal with the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, were tried in absentia and sentenced to death in 1979 by the Vietnamese-installed government in Phnom Penh, but the verdict was not internationally recognized. Other top Khmer Rouge figures include Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, who both live freely in Cambodia, and Kaing Khek Ieu, who is in jail. The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million people during its rule.
Reuters 9 Jan 2002 Killing Fields bones to stay on display PHNOM PENH - The bones of thousands of victims of Cambodia's 1970s Khmer Rouge regime will remain on display in genocide museums rather than being cremated, Prime Minister Hun Sen has said. Mountains of human skulls that for decades have symbolised the barbarity of the 1975-1979 "killing fields" will be kept as evidence of atrocities and as sites of religious worship to the dead. "People ask me again and again to cremate the skulls and bones of victims of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge," Hun Sen said at a ceremony in southeastern Svay Rieng province. "But I disagree. In fact I have issued a circular to keep (the bones) for worship," he said. On Monday, Cambodia commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime during which an estimated 1.7 million people died from disease, starvation and execution. In 1979, survivors of the "killing fields" unearthed tens of thousands of bones and put them on display as proof of the regime's brutality. Hun Sen said that in the early 1980s some people claimed the remains were artificial and part of a propaganda stunt by the then Cambodian government. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998 and many Cambodians believe the bones of victims should now be laid to rest. Cambodian Buddhists believe the soul of a person cannot be reborn until the body and bones are cremated. The Cambodian government and the United Nations are now negotiating the setting up of a long-awaited tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.
AFP 7 Jan 2002 January 7, 2002 Tibet rights group says terror crackdown worsens In the past year, arrests, beatings and torture continued in Tibet, while there was little to suggest that Tibetans in general were living better lives, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said on Saturday. "In the light of the events of September 11, it is more vital than ever for the international community to respect human rights, not to violate them in the name of anti-terrorism as China has done in relation to Tibetans," said Youdon Aukatsang, a spokesman for the centre. Authorities used the nationwide Strike Hard campaign against organised crime, which began in April, to target political dissent in Tibet, and 37 new arrests were counted last year, the centre said. This brought the number of Tibetan political prisoners to 254, according to the centre, which is based in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, home to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Religious institutions in Tibet were also targeted, and at least two were closed down, while ordinary citizens were arrested or imprisoned for refusing to denounce the Dalai Lama, the centre said. The group also disputed China's claim that its rule in Tibet had helped improve the material lives of the local population. Many children in rural areas still went without education beyond primary school, the centre said. Another example is the risk of an Aids epidemic in Tibet, caused by such factors as population planners' preference for sterilisation of women rather than the promotion of safe sex practices, the centre said. Human rights groups have long accused China of widespread suppression of Tibetans' culture and religious freedom.
BBC 8 Jan 2002 Bush to follow Chinese sect trial China has been targetting groups like Falun Gong United States President George Bush is taking a personal interest in the case of a Hong Kong businessman charged by the Chinese authorities for allegedly importing bibles. We call upon China as a member of the international community to meet international standards on freedom of religious expression and freedom of conscience Richard Boucher The man, 38-year-old Li Guangqiang, was detained in May last year when he was trying to deliver more than 16,000 bibles to a Christian evangelical group in southeastern China. The Christian group - known as The Shouters - is one of the fastest-growing underground religious groups in China. US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said President Bush was "deeply concerned" about the case and that America was calling on China to meet the standards on freedom of religious expression laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Li Guangqiang could face the death penalty Mr Li's trial is expected to start next week. He is reportedly charged with propagating a "heretical cult", and might face the death penalty. The Shouters are thought to be one of the fastest growing underground churches in China, and are believed to have around 500,000 followers. They require their followers to shout out their devotion. In 1995 the organisation was banned as an "aberrant religious organisation".
AP 11 Jan 2002 Marxist Wang Ruoshui Dies BEIJING (AP) -- Wang Ruoshui, a leading voice in China's struggle to come to terms with the catastrophic 1966-76 Cultural Revolution who was eventually purged for his outspokenness, has died of lung cancer. He was 75. Wang died Thursday in a hospital in Boston, said an announcement by the New York-based group Human Rights in China, of which he was an honorary board member. He had lived in Boston since last year while his wife, Feng Yuan, was a visiting scholar at Harvard University. As deputy editor-in-chief of the People's Daily in the 1980s, Wang used the usually staid Communist Party mouthpiece to explore one of the most painful periods in modern Chinese history. Thousands were killed and millions of lives disrupted during the Cultural Revolution as fanatical Red Guards heeded communist leader Mao Tse-tung's call for permanent revolution. Wang's exposes of Cultural Revolution-era atrocities and stinging criticisms of party shortcomings finally cost him his job in 1987. He was forced to resign from the party that same year. ``He reported cases of suffering in the Cultural Revolution despite the damage that did to the Communist Party's image,'' recalled Ding Xueliang, a Chinese social scientist who knew Wang in the 1980s. ``What was surprising was these accounts were brought to light not by the underground press, but by the People's Daily itself,'' added Ding, who now teaches at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In one influential article, Wang wrote about a cousin of Mao who used the era's confusion to murder an opponent, Ding said. Wang outraged conservatives by writing that Mao should be held personally responsible for atrocities committed during his rule, particularly the Cultural Revolution, which ended soon after his 1976 death. Wang was also one of the first to argue that the party should not hold itself above the law. He called for the creation of an independent legislature and courts to serve as checks on party power. A dedicated Marxist, Wang did not challenge the party's legitimacy. But he wrote that communism needed democracy to function properly. Born in Changde, a city in the southern province of Hunan, Wang studied at Peking University before joining the People's Daily as an editorial writer in 1950. His early writings were praised by Mao himself, Ding said. During his 37 years at the paper, Wang was removed and reinstated many times, including during the Cultural Revolution. After leaving the paper permanently in 1987, he went to Boston as a visiting scholar at Harvard. He returned to China in the early 1990s, though he could not publish in his own country. Ding said Wang was widely admired for his intellectual honesty and his courage in stating his beliefs. ``He was the last of the idealistic intellectuals,'' Ding said. ``Not many people today of his rank would risk their careers like he did.''
The Age (Australia) 5 Jn 2002 Timor's enduring pain on the slow road to justice By JILL JOLLIFFE With notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres due to be charged with crimes against humanity next week, UN officials in East Timor hope that 2002 may represent a new phase in the prosecution of human rights violators. It couldn't possibly be worse than the troubled year faced by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in 2000. Although foundations seemed to have been solidly laid to prosecute those responsible for the horrific human rights violations of 1999, there was mounting criticism of the UN serious crimes unit, and accusations of political deals struck with militia leaders in talks at the East Timor border. After more than two years in East Timor, only one case of crimes against humanity has been completed by the UN - in early December, 10 Timorese were given sentences ranging from four to 33 years for their roles in massacres in the Lospalos district, although an Indonesian lieutenant involved walked free. Other indictments have been filed but not yet heard. In March, the UN asked legal expert Mary Fisk to conduct an inquiry into the running of the serious crimes unit. Valued investigators were quitting in disgust over inaction, lack of resources and poor leadership. Her secret report was said to be scathing, but action was slow to follow. It was not until the August appointment of Dennis McNamara as UNTAET deputy administrator (second to Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello) that changes began, with the New Zealander given a special brief to reorganise the justice section. McNamara admits there was a serious problem. "The criticisms of the serious crimes unit were widespread to the point where it needed to be seriously addressed," he said. Former chief prosecutor Mohamad Othman, a Tanzanian who led prosecutions of the Rwandan genocide, was in the firing line. Othman was accused of putting the brakes on prosecutions and, along with UNTAET Malaysian chief-of-staff Nagalingam Parameswaran, of striking deals with militia leaders during forays to the border. But Othman has argued from the beginning that lessons needed to be learnt from the Rwandan experience, where thousands of people had been held for excessive periods while they awaited trial. Prosecutions might be slow in Timor, he said, but they would be more thorough, just and effective if cases were trial-ready before arrests were made. In his view, the UN had starved East Timor of funds. "The East Timorese have been short-changed," he said. "For example, I asked for funding to have access to witnesses outside East Timor, but the allocation was $US30,000 ($A58,000), compared to $US500,000 in the cases of Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. It's a piggy-bank mentality." Negotiations with militia leaders were a separate question. Soldiers at the border are angry about a ban on arresting militia leaders coming across for talks with prosecutors, including brothers Cancio and Nemesio Carvalho, wanted for atrocities committed in the central highlands. They negotiated terms of trial in exchange for promises to bring home refugees held captive in West Timor since 1999 and to name Indonesian perpetrators. The militia talks have been championed by nationalist leader Xanana Gusmao, who is anxious to reconcile his people. To others, however, they are just enhancing the currency of refugees as hostages. Father Frank Brennan of the Jesuit Refugee Service protested about the policy on these grounds in a letter to Vieira de Mello earlier this year. The talks that really scandalised, however, involved a lunch on a cruise ship in Dili harbour at which prosecution officials played host to Nemesio Carvalho, who faces two atrocity charges. McNamara takes a conservative position on both the time frame for prosecutions and the talks with militia leaders. He points out that prosecutions for crimes against humanity necessarily take time because they must be meticulous, even involving hundreds of witnesses. On the militiamen, he draws a comparison with Cambodia, where he worked with Vieira de Mello to bring 370,000 refugees home. "We dealt with the Khmer Rouge then in order to get the population back to Cambodia, and we had to. I think you have to deal with the militia leaders here in order to get the innocent captive refugee population back to East Timor ... There's no choice." He admits it's a fine line to tread, but stresses there will be no amnesties, and leaders must face trial. He refuses to comment publicly on whether the infamous lunch crossed that line. McNamara's new broom has already swept through UNTAET; Oyvind Olsen, the former head of the serious crimes unit, has left the post, and both Othman and Parameswaran are also leaving. In Othman's case, he made way for Timorese prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro, in the wake of the national elections. The serious crimes unit now answers directly to McNamara, who has recruited a new deputy prosecutor, Norwegian Siri Frigaard, to pave the transition from international to national staff and keep prosecutions on track. Although most UN staff will leave after independence on May 20, 2002, international prosecutors and investigators will stay on for another two years. Under present conditions, they are limited by a 1999 UN resolution restricting prosecutions to the "scorched earth" period of Indonesian withdrawal, between January 1 and September 20 of that year, although there is a legal loophole that allows them to investigate "historical crimes", including the 1975 killings of the Balibo Five, the 1983 Kraras massacre and the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. They are even more seriously restricted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's refusal in January, 2000, to endorse a recommendation by human rights investigator Sonia Picardo for an international tribunal for East Timor. Instead, Annan recommended to the UN Security Council that Indonesia be given the chance to try its own transgressors, a decision strongly supported by Australia. Two years on, there are no signs this will happen, although Jakarta recently announced that a special court will try senior officers. Although Jakarta signed an agreement with UNTAET in April, 2000, to hand over people wanted for crimes in East Timor, it has stubbornly refused to do so, a stance that has angered McNamara. After the Lospalos verdict he called on Indonesia to honour its international commitments by handing over Lieutenant Syaful Anwar, for whom an arrest warrant had been issued. There is no provision for Indonesian perpetrators to be tried in absentia in Dili, so he could not be condemned in his absence, despite evidence that he commanded operations and even cut the throat of an independence supporter. There is a provision in the 1999 UN resolution for an international court to be set up if Indonesia fails to conduct trials. Timorese prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro intends to file a series of new indictments, including one against Guterres, who is free in Indonesia. Meanwhile, East Timor is tired of waiting for justice. Jill Jolliffe is the author of Cover-Up: the inside story of the Balibo Five.
Times of India 2 Jan 2002 Lashkar strikes again, kills six of a family JAMMU: An infant and an eight-year-old boy were among the six persons of a Hindu family killed in a gruesome massacre by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in a village in the border district of Poonch, official sources said on Tuesday. In the second attack against minorities in the last three days in the Rajouri-Poonch belt, an unspecified number of militants wearing combat fatigues swooped down on the home of an ex-serviceman in a remote moutainous village, Mangnard, and fired indiscriminately at the family a little after midnight on Monday. The militants first cordoned off the village and barged into the house of Baldev Raj after breaking open the front door, the sources said. Five members of Baldev's family were killed in the firing and two others seriously wounded. The sources said that Lashkar militants were behind the massacre. One of the seriously wounded, Ashok Kumar, died on way to Poonch hospital while an injured woman was being airlifted to GMC hospital here. The sources said Baldev Raj was severely tortured with sharp edged weapons before being gunned down by the militants, the sources said. Suspected Lashkar militants killed four members of a Hindu family in Kathal area in Rajouri district last Saturday.
WP 4 Jan 2002 Sweating Over Kashmir By Jefferson Morley. The military confrontation between India and Pakistan has escalated since the Dec. 13 terrrorist attack on the Indian parliament and ignited a war of words in the news Web sites of the two countries. Pakistan: Confrontation and Conspiracy The Friday Times, a Lahore weekly, summarized a dominant view in Pakistan: that terrorism does not discredit its claim on Kashmir. "India's view is that if America can attack Afghanistan for hosting Al-Qaeda terrorists, why can't India follow suit against Pakistan for sustaining Islamic groups bent on 'terrorist' violence in Kashmir?" " But this argument is a non-starter. The fact is that the United States had obtained three UN Security Council resolutions sanctioning the Taliban regime in Afghanistan before September 11 and two more later before it took the decision to attack Kabul. Washington also had full NATO support. In India's case, no such legal backing or world support is available." India's demands for Pakistani action and refusal to talk prompted Dawn, the country's largest circulation English language paper, to ask "Why avoid talking?" "By ruling out talks at Kathmandu, New Delhi has made its motives clear: it wants to keep up pressure along the border, and a war-like situation in the region, for that is the only way it believes it can divert the world attention from Kashmir, where its massive troop deployment has failed to crush the insurgency." In the News International, free-lance columnist Humera Niazi voiced the common belief in the Muslim world: that the Dec. 13 attacks were a "raw ploy" by India to discredit Pakistan. Dismissing evidence that the the attackers were in league with Pakistani-based militants, Niazai described them as "plants" whose actions: "benefited the Indian government tremendously, [and were] additionally a bid to damage the Kashmiri freedom movement." A daily paper in Bangladesh, The New Nation, offered the same conspiracy theory. India: Patriotism and Politics In India, the range of commentary was wider, especially in Kashmir itself. Greater Kashmir a Srinagar news site, said the objectives of the Indian government "are crystal clear ….to curb the politico-religious freedom and rights of Indian minority and Jammu and Kashmir's majority Muslims, secondly to empower Indian forces and local police with extra-ordinary powers and to give them free hand with the provision of general amenity to serve Indian objectives of crushing the on-going movement through genocide." In Jammu, the Daily Excelsior made the opposite point, calling for an end to tolerance of Indian political parties that sympathize with the Pakistani agenda in the region. "This nation is littered with subtle and silent enemies who have been pushing the Pak agenda through one excuse or the other. Muslim League is one case in point. This was the party that got the nation partitioned and from its new abode Pakistan mounted the first attack on the Indian nation. There is little evidence that it has renounced its policies and politics. Yet it sits on the political spectrum of this nation as a respected entity. Why should sworn anti-nationals be groomed and guarded in this nation?" But The Hindu, a national daily, criticized Prime Minister Vaypayee for appealing to such anti-Pakistan sentiments. "Mr. Vajpayee, in a manner befitting more a rabble-rousing politician, has spoken in terms that are associated with a state of war. Almost in the same breath as making a reference to India going ahead with the nuclear tests in the face of stiff international opposition and sanctions, the Prime Minister declared that ``no weapon'' would be spared in ``self-defence''. The prime minister's actions, said the paper "will only be counter-productive for the reason that it will render it much more difficult for General Musharraf to act firmly against powerful Islamist groups that sponsor terrorism in India, for any such action will be seen as a capitulation to New Delhi." "In truth," said The Times of India "neither Pakistan nor India has the liberty to attack the other. That much has been taken care of by the United States, which will not allow any precipitate action by either of the nuclear neighbours. Unfortunately, words have a momentum of their own; even if they don't translate as actual war, they can vitiate the domestic environment, leading to polarisation of people on sectarian lines."
NYT 10 Jan 2002 Jihad Seethes, and Grows, on Indonesian Island By SETH MYDANS- POSO, Indonesia — This lovely seaside town is the sort of place the Bush administration is talking about when it warns of places that could nurture new terrorist cells that could be possible targets of United States action. For the past three years, Muslims and Christians — once friendly neighbors who shared their religious holidays — have been massacring, torturing and beheading one another in the most recent and worrying of Indonesia's communal conflicts. Among the fighters is Noko, a sweet-faced Muslim boy of 20 with floppy black hair, who is an enthusiastic front-line soldier. He recalled the recent destruction of eight Christian villages. "We did it to restore our dignity after being oppressed and toyed with," he said. In battle, he dresses for death and heaven in a white Arab-style robe, wielding a cutlass and heavy homemade pistol. His own troops invoke Allah; the enemy, he says, shouts "Hallelujah." In this district of Poso, on Sulawesi island, more than 10,000 buildings have been destroyed. About 80,000 people have been forced to flee. An estimated 500 or more people have been killed. The Muslim side has been reinforced by a contingent of perhaps 500 members of a group called Laskar Jihad, holy warriors from Indonesia's main island, Java, who are present also in the country's other intractable communal war, in the Maluki islands. The local wars are a sign of the turbulence and lawlessness that have swept Indonesia since Suharto, the former strongman, was deposed in 1998. A weak and divided central government, a restive and demoralized military, a welter of overlapping power struggles and a rise in militant Islam have made Indonesia, a largely Muslim nation of 210 million, a more dangerous place than ever. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the context has suddenly broadened as the United States seeks to root out a worldwide terror network and to neutralize sites of conflict like this one that could serve as refuges and staging grounds for terrorists. ["We see a potential for Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists to link up with those Muslim groups in Indonesia and find a little corner for themselves in a country that is otherwise quite unfriendly to terrorism," the deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, said in an interview on Monday. [Of Sulawesi island, he added, "The concern is that there isn't enough military to protect the local population or to create the kind of stable conditions that keep terrorism down."] A local representative of Laskar Jihad named Roni described his group's mission here as threefold: social work, Muslim education and defense — by which he meant battle. Indeed, Laskar Jihad is a full-service religious army, providing medicine, food and help to refugees, teaching the Koran and giving focus and purpose to the Muslim side. "I think for Muslims the desire to be peaceful is equal with their desire to go to war," said Yahya Almari, an influential Muslim cleric who has served as a peace negotiator. "In Islam, jihad on the peaceful side is to restrain yourself and not create enemies. But in a war zone, jihad means to take up arms and kill your enemies." Mr. Roni denied widespread reports that Laskar Jihad has military training camps here, although he said it does conduct physical training including calisthenics. The unchecked fighting here in Poso, and the growing presence of Laskar Jihad, show how difficult such conflicts are to manage, even when they are blanketed, as here, by a huge deployment of national police and soldiers. As the early morning sun grows hot in this small city, columns of bare-chested police officers jog down the nearly empty main street, chanting in cadence. Gutted buildings and shuttered shops surround them. In the jungles beyond, the fighting continues. Since it first broke out following a drunken fight in the marketplace on Christmas Eve, 1998, the violence has continued to flare, subside, then flare again despite five peace agreements, the latest of them in December. Almost all the noncombatants here, both Muslims and Christians, nonetheless assert that this is more complex than a religious war. It is a local power struggle with clear demographic roots, they say, in which religious fervor has been turned into a weapon of war. And once that fervor has been unleashed — once poorly educated young men like Mr. Noko are ready to die for their faith — it becomes a conflict that could continue for years. "In Suharto's time, people who act like this would be arrested right away and matters resolved," said S. Pelima, a Christian community leader who has acted as a peace negotiator. "Now we are in a transitional period from concentrated power to autonomy, and there is not good rule from the center. So a fight can grow into a brawl and a brawl can grow into a massacre." At the heart of the war is a demographic shift in which Muslim settlers from southern Sulawesi and Java changed the balance in Poso and its surrounding villages, which had been largely Christian. In the newly open politics that followed the tight control of Mr. Suharto, Muslims were elected to fill the top three political positions here, replacing Christians. Disenfranchisement led to resentment and then violence. As in other conflicts around the country, broad national themes are played out in complex, specific local dynamics. The recent history of Poso is the history of the "three incidents," each about a year apart and interspersed with what one police captain called "bubbles" of violence that have ranged from the slaying of nine Muslims to the razing, just last month, of eight Christian villages. Both Christians and Muslims recount the same two instances of provocation, each of which led to a new massacre. In one, a Muslim man slashed himself and said he was attacked by Christians. In the other, a body was dumped in a Muslim area and Christian attackers were blamed for the killing. Although both sides suspect provocateurs, with either a local or national agenda, no one seems to be able to say who is stoking the conflict. The government's intelligence chief, A. M. Hendropriyono, recently said foreign terrorists had engineered the clashes here, but he offered no evidence and his statement was largely dismissed by analysts and other government figures. Local officials and fighters on both sides also dispute a widespread view that Laskar Jihad is leading the Muslim side of the conflict. Mr. Noko, the young Muslim fighter, seemed affronted at the suggestion that outsiders were leading the attacks. "They do fight when they are needed," he said. "But the initiative is our own local initiative." Local fighters could easily be mistaken for Laskar Jihad, he said, in their Arab-style outfits — white robes by day, black by night. "I dress like this because according to Muslim teachings, we want to be prepared to die a holy death," he said. Then he smiled an engaging smile. "I think I have already saved up many good deeds." In the Christian enclave of Tentena, Rhenaldi Damanik, a Protestant pastor and fighter, said the Christians had identified at least three training camps run by Laskar Jihad, although it was not clear what kind of training might go on there. At the same time, some Muslim leaders say the Christians are running their own training camps. One thing on which both sides seem to be able to agree: the other side started it. "I want to emphasize that we Muslims are the ones who have been attacked," said Adnan Arsal, 53, a Muslim community leader in Poso who said he keeps an arsenal at home and always joins the battles "to encourage the young ones." On the other side of town, Ronald Hanny Ticoalu, a Pentecostal pastor, echoed his words as chickens pecked and clucked around his feet. "Christians never attack first," he asserted. "They only fight in self defense." Today, Poso presents a demoralizing landscape of hatred and destruction in which both sides have retreated into armed and terrified enclaves. Country roads lined with gently bending palm trees are scenes of devastation, mile after mile of burned and empty villages marked only by crumbling walls and gutted churches and mosques. The town of Poso itself, once home to about 40,000 people, is now a place of fear and furtiveness where only about 5,000 people remain, along with an occupying force of hundreds of heavily armed police. Christian refugees have fled mostly to the nearby town of Tentena. Muslims have fled as far away as Palu, the mostly Muslim provincial capital, where bombs exploded recently at three churches. The countryside presents a chronology of the destruction. Lush foliage already covers the houses that were burned in the early attacks. In the Christian villages that were most recently attacked, only dogs wander among the charred and broken walls. The hatred is explicit here. As the houses burned, attackers seized chunks of charcoal and left their mark. "God has no son. Jesus could not help you," they wrote. "Until doomsday, Muslims will not make peace with Christians." "Death to all Christians." And, tauntingly, "See you in Tentena."
Jakarta Post 2 Jan 2001 Church blasts mar year-end festivities, Jakarta Explosions rocked four churches in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu on New Year's Eve and the first day of the year, on Tuesday, injuring a police officer. Eyewitnesses said that the first explosion took place at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Jl. Setiabudi at about 23:50 p.m. local time minutes before the second blast at the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI). The third explosion hit the Pentecostal Church on Jl. Thamrin, only about five minutes after the second blast. The bomb exploded in the yard of the Pentecostal Church on Jl. Gajahmada at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the first day of the year. The explosion injured an officer of the bomb squad Adj. Brig. Yani Avanto, who -- along with six other officers -- arrived at the site following reports that a bomb was found in the church compound. The fact that a bomb blast occurred in the church compound was a bit ironic as a police post was erected right in front of the church to provide security during the new year festivities. The third explosion was said to be the strongest. While the four explosions caused only minor damage, they have shattered the fragile calm in Central Sulawesi. A truce has recently been signed by Muslim and Christian leaders to end the sectarian clashes in Poso, Central Sulawesi that have claimed the lives of thousands of people over a three-year period. Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Sugianto said officer Yani suffered a serious eye wound and had been transported to Makassar for further treatment. Agus said police had yet to identify those who planted the bombs, but confirmed that some people had been questioned as witnesses. Despite the church blasts, year-end festivities were without incident on the whole compared to last year when several people were killed in several church explosions in West Java, East Java and Riau. One man was killed when a grenade exploded on Jl. Bulungan, in Jakarta early on Tuesday morning. Police have yet to name who was behind the blast. In Denpasar, Bali three people were killed in traffic accidents on New Year's Eve, but the new year festivities proceeded peacefully with some 6,000 policemen and other security officers fielded to provide security during the merry making on the island. A folk arts festival was held by the Badung regency administration on Kuta beach, Bali's most popular tourist area. Featuring various popular folk arts, such as the sensual Joged dance and the joyful Janger dance, the festival attracted thousands of visitors, and caused traffic congestion in the surrounding area. Separately, President Megawati Soekarnoputri spent New Year's Eve at the Tampaksiring State Palace, some 35 kilometers north of here, by throwing a private party to celebrate her husband's 58th birthday. Security was very tight around the palace, which made it impossible even for a journalist to enter the compound. "This is a invitation-only party. I saw several noted figures entering the compound, including the National Intelligence Body (BIN) chief AM Hendro Priyono," a security guard said. In the restive provinces of Aceh and Maluku, gunshots and bomb blasts marked New Year's Eve. Continuous gunshots were heard in Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe in Aceh before and after midnight. At about 10 p.m. local time, young people took to the streets on motorcycles to celebrate the joyful night. They seemed oblivious to an attack on a military post at the Pemuda Pancasila building on Jl. Cik Di Tiro by unidentified gunmen. The military said the attack was conducted by members of Free Aceh Movement (GAM). An soldier was injured in the attack. Meanwhile, a band entertained the people of Sigli, while a Seudati traditional dance performance was held in Bireun. In Ambon, the capital of Maluku, gunshots and bomb blasts were heard amid the sounds of firecrackers. The gunshots were mostly heard in volatile areas, including Mardika, Batumerah, Ahuru, Karang Panjang. Antara reported that the gunshots were fired by security officers guarding the hot spots and several areas outside the city of Ambon. Unidentified people threw homemade bombs in several areas. No incidents were reported and security was maintained. Places of worship were also full of people. In the capitals of West, Central and East Java, Bandung, Semarang, and Surabaya people celebrated New Year's Eve festivities by flocking the streets. No violent incidents were reported. In Yogyakarta thousands of people jostled along popular Jl. Malioboro and other main roads, such as Jl. Sudirman, and Jl. Solo. In the neighboring sultanate city of Surakarta, King Pakoe Boewono XII gave a message for local citizens on New Year's Eve. In the written address read by chief of the palace administration GPH Dipokusumo, the sultan reminded the people of the degradation in the nation's moral values and asked the people to maintain traditional cultural values. Art and cultural performances entertained the people who stayed up for the night. In Medan, North Sumatra, the people celebrated the new year celebrations peacefully despite the floods which had devastated several areas. In the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar people celebrated the new year in their own way. Many of them just strolled around the city; many others went to theaters and malls. In the easternmost province of Irian Jaya, peace and order marked the new year festivities. In the capital of Jayapura people let off firecrackers. Teenagers gathered in the Teluk Yos Sudarso recreation area which is located in front of City Hall. On Tuesday morning the city was very quiet with traditional markets, shops, restaurants closed.
Jakarta Post 29 Dec 2001 Muslim congress to push for 'sharia' MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi: Some 2,500 Muslims in South Sulawesi will begin a three-day congress here on Saturday to push for special autonomy to implement Islamic sharia law in the province. The committee said on Friday that Vice President Hamzah Haz was scheduled to open the second congress at the Sudiang pilgrim dormitory, about 15 kilometers north of the province's capital of Makassar. The main agenda to be discussed at the forum would be draft regional regulations and a special autonomy bill on the implementation of Islamic law. "All preparations are already mature, including the agenda to be discussed during the congress," chief organizer Syahruddin Nawi told The Jakarta Post. Aswar Hasan, a secretary of the steering committee, assured non-Muslims that the new autonomy law would not harm their existence and houses of worship in South Sulawesi. The issue of sharia and the special autonomy bill surfaced during the first congress of Muslims in Makassar on Oct. 19-21 last year.
AFP 2 Jan 2001 Indonesia's Aceh introduces Islamic law JAKARTA: Indonesia's conflict-wracked Aceh province on Tuesday introduced Islamic sharia law - a move the central government hopes will dampen calls for separatism in the staunchly Muslim region. However, rebels and rights activists dismissed the new policy as an effort by the government to distract from human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Indonesian military in the region. There was also confusion about what the new legal code would mean in practice for Aceh's 4.3 million people. Local government officials said at a ceremony to inaugurate the policy that they were still preparing regulations to govern its implementation, state news agency Antara reported. The right to adopt Islamic law is part of a wide-ranging autonomy package for the oil-and gas-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Sharia is held by Muslims to be a complete legal system that governs every aspect of individual and social life and is derived directly from the Quran and the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. However, Muslim scholars disagree on what the law encompasses and how it should be enforced. It is the first time that overwhelmingly Muslim Indonesia has granted a province the right to practice sharia. Yusuf Ismail Pase, a lawyer and human rights activist, said it would not solve the province's problems. "The Acehnese have been Muslims for generations. They have no need for sharia." Prosecuting members of the security forces for alleged atrocities in the province would be a better way to win the hearts of the population, he said. At least 1,300 people have been killed in battles between separatists and pro-Jakarta militia in Aceh this year. Fighting between the two sides has been raging since the mid-1970's. The military has been blamed for many of the deaths. A series of cease-fire agreements have collapsed in the past two years and the government has ordered security forces to crush the rebellion. Rebel spokesman Teungku Agam Kateraja said the Free Aceh Movement would continue its campaign against Indonesian security forces. "We are not fighting for an Islamic state, but one free from Indonesian rule," he said.
Jakarta Post 27 Dec 2001 Peace beginning to return to Poso Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The government has introduced a series of short-term programs to restore peace and order in the strife-torn region of Poso, Central Sulawesi, to give backing to last week's Malino peace accord aimed at ending the prolonged conflict in the area, an official said. Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla said on Wednesday that the six-month programs, scheduled to commence next month, included disarming warring locals, rehabilitating and rebuilding destroyed homes, schools and places of worship and remove outsiders who had entered the area during the conflicts. He said the government and security officers had started to publicize the contents of the government-initiated Malino declaration, which was signed on Dec. 20. "All the programs are focused on allowing the displaced residents to return home in peace," Jusuf told a media briefing after a two-hour coordination meeting on the Poso issue at his office. He added that several Cabinet ministers would visit the area on Jan. 6 and 7 as the programs began. Among those taking part in the meeting were Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno, National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, Minister of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah, Minister of Health Achmad Sujudi, Minister of National Education Abdul Malik Fajar and Secretary of Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Maj. Gen. Sudi Silalahi and territorial assistant to the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief of general affairs Maj. Gen. Sang Nyoman Suwisma. The government has allocated Rp 100 billion (US$10 million), which consists of Rp 4 million in the form of building materials and Rp 1 million in cash for each local family to help them rebuild their homes and another Rp 2 million in donations to relatives of each of the almost 1,000 people killed in the violence. Two battalions of troops and three other battalions from the police's mobile brigade have been deployed to the area. Da'i Bachtiar said the calm that had prevailed during the holiday season following the signing of the Malino declaration proved that peace had been achieved in Poso. "The people actually want to end the conflict, which has entered its third year. The police have been deployed there to maintain security and to uphold the law while publicizing the peace accord," he said. Commenting on reports that the presence of outsiders, including members of the hardliner Jihad Force, had escalated the conflict, Jusuf said that the law on demography allowed citizens to travel to all parts of the country. "Moreover the Jihad Force arrived in Poso in June 2001, or two years after the conflict broke out in October 1998. They were there to assist the locals and were not connected with the violence. However, all outsiders must now return home," he added.
Jakarta Post 27 Dec 2001 Danger in ethnic-based grouping JAKARTA (JP): The establishment of ethnic-based organizations should be stopped because their activities can undermine national integrity, the Association of Retired Civil Servants (Wredatama) said on Wednesday. The association, chaired by Warsito Puspoyo, expressed concern to President Megawati Soekarnoputri that the specter of "regional fanaticism" threatens national unity. Regional fanaticism is fomented by the establishment of ethnic-based groups, which insist that gubernatorial and regent posts be awarded to local figures, thereby weakening the authority of the central government and leading to separatism, Warsito said. The association urged the president to take necessary measures to halt these practices. "The president promised to consider our proposal," Warsito told journalists.
Jakarta Post 27 Dec 2001 Peace remains elusive as ever in Kalimantan By Kanis Dursin, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Peace remained elusive as ever in the land of headhunters in 2001 as a fresh bout of ethnic violence pitting native Dayaks against migrant Madurese broke out in Central Kalimantan last February, wearing down a fragile "truce" between the two hostile communities. The clashes between Dayaks and Madurese shocked the world and were further exacerbated by the fact that the government was incredibly slow in responding, highlighting its insensitivity to the images of bodies with heads severed and others with entrails spilling out. Police and military personnel stationed in Kalimantan provinces were obviously not only outnumbered by members of warring parties, but were also unprepared to handle mass conflict of such a large scale. And police and military personnel sent from Jakarta as reinforcement proved to be either powerless or too late to contain the savagery. Worse still, police and military personnel differed on how to handle the violence and fleeing refugees, which resulted in a shootout that killed one soldier and wounded a number of policemen. Other than a long history of hostility and deep-seated hatred, nobody knows exactly what triggered the carnage, which began when a group of armed Dayaks suddenly attacked Madurese migrants in the Pelalang resettlement area in Sampit in the wee hours of Feb. 18, 2001, killing at least five Madurese. The attack unnerved Madurese, who are well known for their toughness and solidarity with fellow Madurese, to launch large-scale retaliation operations against native Dayaks. Being the majority in Sampit, the Madurese, who are also associated with clurit (a traditional sharp weapon), the karapan sapi (traditional cow racing) and violence, easily took control of Sampit, a bustling town located 214 kilometers northwest of provincial capital Palangkaraya, killing at least 24 Dayaks in the process. The Madurese marched down the town's streets, flying banners with "Sampit is a Madurese town" and "Sampit is the second Sampang" (a major town in Madura). The "fall" of Sampit into Madurese control forced residents of other ethnic groups, including Malays and Bugis, to flee Sampit and the Dayaks to evacuate, spreading the news to other parts of Central Kalimantan. Soon, the violence spread to other villages, subdistricts and districts in Central Kalimantan, eventually reaching the provincial capital of Palangkaraya. But the Dayaks, who had a well-preserved reputation as head-hunters until Dutch colonialists outlawed the practice in the late 19th century, were far from defeated. According to the head of the Association of East Kalimantan Dayaks, Julianus Sulaiman, the word "Dayak" comes from the Dutch word dayaker, meaning a wild community. What happened next was a full-blown, unbridled ethnic war, with each warring party on the offensive and defensive alternately. In early March, the Dayaks, firmly believing that all of Kalimantan rightfully belonged to them because it was their ancestral land, launched a bloody revenge against the Madurese that culminated in the Dayaks taking over Sampit, killing thousands of innocent people. In some cases, the victims' bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. Dayak mobs hunted down and killed Madurese, including women, children and the elderly. They also attacked and burned houses and businesses belonging to Madurese. With the Dayaks taking control of Sampit, tens of thousands of Madurese migrants fled their houses and left their belongings in Sampit and returned to the land of their ancestors, Madura, a small barren island off Surabaya, the capital of East Java province. The Sampit refugees, as the Madurese returnees are called, are now housed in squalid refugee camps on Madura. Government officials have repeatedly promised to send back the refugees to Central Kalimantan, but have given no date for their repatriation. The February-April ethnic conflict was not the first between the Dayaks and Madurese. In 1999, the Madurese clashed with the Dayaks and other ethnic groups in Sambas and Singkawang in West Kalimantan, killing thousands of people from both sides. It also forced tens of thousands Madurese to flee to provincial capital Pontianak and some return to Madura. In 1997, ethnic conflict between the Dayaks and Madurese also broke out in Sanggau Ledo, West Kalimantan, killing hundreds of innocent people, including children. One intriguing question that perhaps only the Dayaks, the majority of whom are Christian, and Madurese, generally Muslim, can answer is why the two communities harbor such a deep-seated hatred against the other that full-blown ethnic conflicts can erupt at any time, with any insignificant occurrence as the trigger? The hatred is so intense that it appears to even conquer the holy bond of religion. In 2001, for example, angry Madurese mercilessly beat to death a Dayak Muslim man who had accompanied his Madurese wife to Madura after the ethnic conflict in Sampit. In 1999, some Madurese men, who had converted to Christianity and had Christian wives, had to take sanctuary in churches in Pontianak to avoid angry Dayak Christians. The usual explanation offered by experts and government officials has been economic jealousy. Madurese, who first set foot on the country's biggest territory in the 1960s through government-sponsored transmigration programs, are said to control economic life in Kalimantan, while their Dayak counterparts are poor and largely marginalized. Such an explanation, however, contradicts reality in the field. Just as on the national level, Chinese-Indonesians and, to a certain extent, traders from Sumatra who are locally referred to as Malays, control the economy in Kalimantan. So, if the trigger was economic jealousy, the ethnic Chinese and Malay traders should have been the main targets of the Dayak people's wrath. But so far, there have been no reports of conflicts between Dayaks and Malay traders or Chinese-Indonesians in Kalimantan. In fact, in the 1999 ethnic conflict in Singkawang and Sambas, ethnic groups like the Malays, Bugis and Chinese as well as Javanese migrants sided with the Dayaks in driving Madurese out of the two towns. These ethnic groups have also been unanimous in their rejection of the return of Madurese who are now living in a number of temporary resettlements in and around Pontianak. Their future remains uncertain, as local authorities appear reluctant to relocate them to other parts of West Kalimantan province. The Dayaks, Malays, Javanese and ethnic Chinese as well Bugis in West Kalimantan are particularly affronted by the perceived arrogance of the Madurese, who, in the words of the other ethnic groups "were not planting but were harvesting, were not raising cows but were selling them". Some Madurese leaders in Pontianak acknowledge the wayward attitudes of some Madurese migrants in West Kalimantan, but assert that there are more good Madurese than there are bad Madurese. Other ethnic groups agree with the assessment, but became irritated that Madurese elders did nothing to punish the wayward Madurese. The conflict revealed that after more than 50 years of independence, Indonesia is still very much compartmentalized by religion or ethnicity or both. Under such a condition, the country remains prone to disintegration. And the fear becomes real if one looks at the country's police and military, which have proven to be ill-equipped to deal with full-scale social conflict. Needless to say the continued, earth-shaking Dayak-Madurese conflict has raised concerns over the future of Indonesia, which has been plagued by social unrest triggered by the prolonged economic crisis beleaguering the country since 1997. With the specter of ethnic and religious conflicts, plus "rebellions" in two provinces, there is indeed a clear reason to worry about the very existence of this country.
Jakarta Post 27 Dec 2001 Indonesia still prone to sectarian conflict By Dwi Atmanta, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta As the year draws to a close, 2001 might best be remembered for its dark chapter when the bloody rampages pitting Muslim against Christian in Maluku and Poso ran unchecked. Thousands have been killed and many others displaced since the sectarian conflict first erupted in the capital of Ambon in 1999 and spread across the Maluku islands to the remote Central Sulawesi town of Poso. In the time since, critics have assailed the government for its inability to return peace to the two territories, where the balance between Christians and Muslims is almost even. The clashes came against the backdrop of a renewal of Indonesian society following the fall of the authoritarian regime of the now-ailing president Soeharto and a presidential election billed as the most democratic ever. Speculation abounds that those facts were not coincidental. Political analyst Juwono Sudarsono, a former minister in the cabinets of ex-presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and BJ Habibie, is among those who sees the hand of Soeharto's cronies in the conflicts. While Juwono has not named any masterminds, his University of Indonesia colleague, Tamrin Amal Tomagola, has publicly come to the conclusion that former Indonesian Military chief and defense minister Gen. (ret.) Wiranto is responsible for the ongoing sectarian strife. Wiranto has since initiated a defamation lawsuit against the sociologist, a North Maluku native. But the Cibinong District Court in West Java where the litigation was filed turned down the lawsuit in November, citing lack of evidence. Those opinions remain open to debate but, to some extent, they also show how complicated the Maluku and Poso conflict is, in that three different administrations succeeding Soeharto have failed to effectively deal with the situation. Fatal clashes also broke out intermittently in the Maluku capital of Ambon this year -- despite the fact that a civil state of emergency has been imposed in the province and its neighbor, North Maluku, since June of last year. One of the biggest episodes of violence took place in mid-June, involving an Army joint battalion force and armed civilians. At least 20 people, including an Army soldier, were killed in the clash. The Maluku military commander Brig. Gen. I Made Yasa was replaced by Brig. Gen. Moestopo following widespread criticism of the military's excessive measures, which included an attack on a health clinic belonging to Laskar Jihad, a Muslim group. Moestopo opted for a softer approach -- which he called "persuasive measures" -- by keeping in touch with leaders of both religious groups. But the violence did not stop. The latest incident took place on Dec. 19, when nine people were killed as passengers aboard a speedboat were showered with bullets near Teluk Ambon. Just a week earlier, a bomb exploded aboard KM Kalifornia, killing 11. The prolonged conflict in Ambon has prompted a desperate Maluku Governor Saleh Latuconsina to ponder acquiescing the handling of the province's problems to Jakarta. Smarting from the Maluku lesson -- albeit a bit too late -- the central government intervened in the conflict in Poso, which has claimed 2,000 lives since 1998, by assigning Coordinating Minister for Social Affairs Yusuf Kalla to mediate peace talks. The fifth of their kind, the negotiations were held in Malino, a hilly town 40 northeast of the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar. Both the Muslim and Christian camps agreed on a peaceful settlement and the establishment of two commissions dealing with security and social and economic matters. The government has also promised to disarm and repatriate thousands of Laskar Jihad militiamen who have recently arrived in Poso, worsening the feud. Like in Maluku, the prolonged dispute in Poso was triggered by a minor personal squabble back in 1998. Human rights activists said the scuffle, which involved two youths of different religions, was left unsettled and, in time, extended into sectarian conflict in line with the race for the regency post in 1999. The Maluku violence has contributed to the escalation of conflict in Poso. The killings continued even after three militia leaders --Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Domingus da Silva -- were brought to justice and sentenced to death in April for a series of murders in the mid-1990s. Despite their mutual hostilities, both parties shared the same opinion: that the conflict would have not spiraled out of control had the government took action at the earliest stage. People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais joined the chorus of critics against the government's lackluster moves to put and end to the Poso problem. Critics said the government has never changed its long-standing name tag as a fire brigade sent to a place which is already long burnt out. Reports also revealed that, despite the frequent security operations, which included weapon searches, the troops did not take enough measures to enforce the law. Both the warring groups claimed that the security forces behaved in the other's favor. Maluku has provided yet another lesson: that a government-mediated, top-down peace agreement did not guarantee that the conflict would not rekindle. Now is the right moment for the government of President Megawati Soekarnoputri, whose appointment as the country's new leader in July was greeted with enthusiasm, to maintain a lasting peace among the people of this melting pot society by promoting tolerance and rule of law. The use of force will allow the legacy of the New Order to repeat itself. There was a chapter in Indonesia's history when an artificial peace and order were preserved through coercion -- and it did not last. Civil emergency vs military emergency CIVIL EMERGENCY: 1. The governor takes charge as the supreme authority. 2. The governor has the authority to issue regulations necessary to maintain public order or security. 3. Every civilian employee in the region subject to the emergency is obliged to provide information to the governor under certain circumstances. 4. The governor has the authority to limit shows, printing, publishing, announcements or any form of information dissemination. MILITARY EMERGENCY: 1. The military takes charge as the supreme authority. 2. The military has the right to take control in matters of public order and security. 3. The military has the right to restrict shows, printing, publishing, announcements, or any form of information dissemination. 4. The military has the right to confiscate letters and packages sent through the post office or couriers, also drafts and receipts and money sent through the such means, and to censor, to change the content of or to destroy letters or packages.
Jerusalem Post 30 Dec 2001 Health minister compares assimilation to Holocaust - Assimilation was a greater catastrophe for the Jewish people than the Holocaust, Health Minister Nissim Dahan said this morning. Dahan (Shas) first made his remarks at a Rabbinical Council of America convention in Jerusalem on Friday. He repeated the allegation in an interview with Israel Radio this morning. Dahan said there should have been some 500 million Jews today. "Where has this nation disappeared to?" he asked. "[Assimilation] was another huge disaster, maybe parallel to the Holocaust." Yad Vashem protested Dahan's words, saying that even if he wanted to emphasize the severity of assimilation, there was no need to compare assimilation to the Holocaust, which was the worst disaster to befall the Jewish people and humanity. Zvulun Orlev (National Religious Party) said losing Jews to different faiths is an "internal catastrophe" of the religion, but not equivalent to the massacre of millions. "The Holocaust was a physical decimation not related to assimilation, which is a spiritual Jewish tragedy," he told Israel Radio. MK Mossy Raz (Meretz) said: "There is nothing in human history worse than the destruction of six million Jews in the Shoah, and anyone who thinks otherwise cannot be a minister in Israel." Later, when asked about the issue by The Jerusalem Post's Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Dahan did not retract his remarks, but said he apologized to anyone who had been been offended by them. Conversions worse than Holocaust: Israeli minister
AP 30 Dec 2001 JERUSALEM: Israel's health minister, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, said on Sunday that the assimilation of Jews into other religions throughout history was a greater tragedy for the Jewish people than the Holocaust carried out by the Nazis in World War II. The remarks by Nissim Dahan of the Shas religious party - which belongs to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition government - sparked angry responses, especially among Holocaust survivors. Dahan said that if not for conversions and assimilation, the Jewish people today would number hundreds of millions more people - whereas 6 million were killed during World War II. "When you look at just the numbers, not at the suffering ... 6 million is tragic but 200 million is even worse," Dahan told Israel Radio. Holocaust survivors and their supporters insisted that the killing of so many Jews could not be compared to a decision taken by Jews to leave their religion. "A comparison must never be made to the Holocaust, the greatest tragedy to befall the Jewish people and humanity," said a statement from the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Yosef Lapid, a lawmaker and a Holocaust survivor himself, said Dahan should resign. "The fact that such a man can still be a minister the day after he said such a thing is horrible," Lapid said. "This is a great stain on the Israeli government and Israeli society." Dahan initially made his remarks at a conference on Saturday, and repeated them in an interview with Israel radio on Sunday. As a movement representing Jews of Middle Eastern origin, Shas has often been accused of ignoring the deep emotions the Holocaust evokes in many Jews of European descent, especially Holocaust survivors and their families. Shas has 17 of the 120 seats in Israel's parliament. A commentator on religion, Asher Cohen, said Dahan's remark represented a great fear among ultra-Orthodox Jews that the religion will disappear as Jews around the world intermarry and have children who are not raised within the faith. Surveys show that almost half of American Jews marry someone who is not Jewish. Zvulun Orlev, a lawmaker with the National Religious Party, and an observant Jew himself, said losing Jews to different faiths is an "internal catastrophe" of the religion, but not equivalent to the massacre of millions. "The Holocaust was a physical decimation not related to assimilation, which is a spiritual Jewish tragedy," Orlev told the radio. The comments were not the first by a Shas member to raise ire among Holocaust survivors. One party minister, Shlomo Benizri, sparked outrage last year when he said the secular Zionist movement did nothing to try to help save devout Jews in the Holocaust. The party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said last year that those who perished in the Holocaust were the reincarnated souls of sinners.
BBC 10 Jan 2002 Palestinian militants abandon truce Militants have carried out dozens of suicide bombings The militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad has said it is calling off a decision to suspend attacks against Israel. The move comes a day after another radical Palestinian movement, Hamas, killed four Israeli soldiers in an apparent breach of a self-imposed ceasefire. We will maintain our right to continue the jihad [holy war] and resistance until the last drop of blood in our veins Islamic Jihad Both groups have carried out a wave of suicide attacks against Israel, prompting the Palestinian Authority to arrest scores of militants. Hours before Islamic Jihad's announcement, Israeli troops demolished dozens of buildings in the Gaza Strip which Israel said had been used for shelter by Palestinian gunmen. In its statement, the al-Quds Brigade - Islamic Jihad's armed wing - said it was "not bound by any agreement or co-operation with the Palestinian Authority as far as the ceasefire with Israel is concerned", Qatar-based al-Jazeera television reported. Tentative truce Islamic Jihad has not carried out any major attacks since it suspended suicide bombings on 21 December last year. The Palestinian Authority has taken steps against Islamic Jihad Five days earlier, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, under intense international pressure, had publicly called for an end to armed attacks against Israel. Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip began rounding up scores of militants and closed down offices belonging to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. On Sunday, Palestinian police arrested six members of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank town of Jenin, including one of Israel's most wanted suspects. Bigger threat The BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem says Islamic Jihad is a small group with very little public support and is not a big threat to Mr Arafat. He is more concerned about the bigger movement, Hamas, which is very popular. Hamas' attack followed a significant drop in violence It appeared to break its ceasefire, also declared on 21 December, when two of its members killed four Israeli soldiers at an army outpost in southern Israel on Wednesday. Hamas said the attack was in revenge for Israel's capture on Sunday of a ship carrying 50 tons of weapons which, Israel says, was destined for the Palestinian Authority. However, a Hamas official insisted the group's position had not changed. He said Hamas had agreed only to suspend suicide and mortar attacks, not all military operations. A spate of Hamas suicide attacks in Jerusalem and the northern Israeli city of Haifa in early December killed 26 people and injured dozens more, sparking fierce Israeli retaliation. The latest surge in violence came after three weeks of relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians and has dealt a severe blow to US efforts to implement a ceasefire.
Jeruslaem Post 8 Jan 2002 Melchior: Israelis not concerned about anti-Semitism abroad By Gil Hoffman JERUSALEM - Israelis are not interested in hearing about anti-Semitism, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said yesterday in a meeting with Jerusalem Post editors and writers. Melchior made the assertion a day after his unveiling of a new International Commission for Combating Anti-Semitism failed to generate headlines in the Hebrew press. "Issues of the Jewish world, anti-Semitism, and human rights are not considered issues that the general population wants to read about except if something sensational happens," said Melchior, who is responsible for such issues in the government. Melchior questioned why Israel's demonization at the Durban conference, for instance, was not even covered by mass circulation Hebrew dailies until the day before the event. He said a possible answer might be the Israeli attitude that the state was set up to end anti-Semitism by changing the image of the Jewish people. But Melchior said that the laissez-faire attitude toward anti-Semitism has caused damage by allowing anti-Israel incitement to thrive in the Arab world, while it is being monitored only by people interested in the failure of peace efforts with the Palestinians. "I argued that for Oslo to succeed we must insist on ending the incitement and I was criticized for raising the issue," Melchior said. "This is the other side of the coin of terror. There is physical terror and then there is ideological terror." By forming the coalition, which will be made up of well-known leaders around the world, Melchior hopes to engage the Western world in eradicating anti-Semitism in the Arab world, the United Nations, and elsewhere. Asked if he is not going overboard in forming such a coalition, Melchior said, "I don't think we are overdoing it, I think we are under-doing it." Melchior drew a line between disagreeing with Israel's policies and purposely singling out Israel in order to harm its image. "For example, we can debate whether settlements violate the Geneva Convention," he said. "But to say that settlements are genocide, that is anti-Semitism." In a revealing story about the workings of the government, Melchior said Cabinet Secretary Gideon Sa'ar scolded him for criticizing the government's decision to forbid Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat from attending Christmas services in Bethlehem. When he asked Sa'ar why several other ministers who made the same criticism were not scolded, Sa'ar said that only Melchior would listen. Melchior met with new Labor Party chairman Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer last night and discussed Meimad's future in the Labor-Meimad Knesset faction. Ben-Eliezer told Melchior he would do everything possible to continue the partnership between the two parties. Melchior said Meimad's growing support gives it many options for the future, including maintaining the Labor partnership and running on its own for the next Knesset. But he downplayed efforts in the National Religious Party to form a united religious-Zionist list. If Labor decides to leave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's national-unity government, Meimad would have to make its own decision whether to join it in the opposition, Melchior said. He added that Meimad and Labor have similar boundaries for remaining in the coalition, which he defined as the government locking the door on the PA ever being a partner. Melchior scoffed at Sharon's plan to use mass immigration as the solution to the state's demographic problem. But he called upon the prime minister to provide more funding for absorption and conversion courses to advance the solution. The birthright israel program is a step in the right direction, said Melchior, who wants to see the majority of Diaspora Jewry attend the program. "As demographics shift in the next 10 years and Israel becomes the home of the majority of the Jewish people, the state's responsibility also will shift and we will have to become responsible for Jewish education all over the world," Melchior said. "There is a certain part of the raison d'etre of the state that we will have to start dealing with."
Jerusalem Post 7 Jan 2002 New group to combat new anti-Semitism By Tovah Lazaroff JERUSALEM - Fighting surging anti-Semitism requires a new strategy, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said yesterday as he announced the creation of an international non-Jewish organization based in Switzerland to head that effort. "It will be the approach of the International Commission for Combating Anti-Semitism that wherever and whenever anti-Semitism appears with its ugly face, we will expose, condemn, and fight against it," he said. There are many Jewish organizations monitoring this threat, Melchior said, but there isn't a non-Jewish one looking at it from an international perspective. "Anti-Semitism is not just a threat against Jews, it's a threat to the basis of civilization, decency, and democracy. " said Irwin Cotler, one of the founding members of the commission. He is a human rights lawyer, a member of the Faculty of Law at McGill University in Montreal, and a member of Canada's Parliament. Hatred against Jews is not new, but today it has a new emphasis that must be addressed, Cotler said. "This threat always begins with the Jews and never ends with the Jews," said Per Ahlmark, a former deputy prime minister of Sweden and European co-chairman of UN Watch. "We are witnessing a new anti-Jewishness, one that is a dramatic transformation, grounded in classical anti-Semitism, but distinguishable from it," said Cotler. "That is the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for discriminatory treatment in the international arena." Traditional anti-Semitism denied Jews the right to live as equal members of society, the new anti-Jewishness is a denial of the right of Jewish people to live an as equal member of the family of nations, Cotler said. Experts point to the fact that anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. According to the Annual Report on Anti-Semitism in the World by Tel Aviv University, terror attacks against Jews rose from from 32 in 1999 to 66 in 2000. Other violent incidents rose from 114 to 190. But what concerns Cotler is discrimination against the State of Israel in the international arena. "It's carried out under the protective cover of international law and human rights," Cotler said. The most blaring example, is of course, is the anti-Semitism at the UN conference against racism in Durban last summer, he said. But there are many others. Israel is singled out for differential treatment in other UN conferences. Thirty percent of the indictments by the United Nations Human Rights Commission are against Israel, Cotler said. Last December, for the first time in 52 years, an indictment was registered a against a country under the Geneva Conventions - Israel. "For 52 years, no one was ever brought before them, not for the genocide in Cambodia, not for the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia," Cotler said. Israel is also excluded from participating in international bodies that levy such indictments, he said. It took four years to plan the Durban conference, Cotler said. But only six weeks was spent organizing a protest for the anti-Semitism it exhibited. Had this new commission been in existence it would have been lobbying to keep anti-Semitism out of the conference from the start, he said. "If you have a member state of the UN like Iran calling for the destruction of Israel, the UN should be responding. When Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, the international community should be alarmed," Cotler said. "Nothing I am saying here is intended to suggest that Israel is not accountable for any violations like any other state, that is the point, like any other state. No one is suggesting that Israel should be above the law, but Israel is being systematically denied equality before the law," Cotler said. The commission will also explore anti-Semitic rhetoric by the Palestinian Authority, including Chairman Yasser Arafat, said Melchior. Anti-Israel rhetoric by Palestinians was not taken seriously enough in the past, he said. "There can't be a peace process with the incitement going on," he said. "Regardless of how we look at the Middle East conflict, anti-Semitism can never be accepted," said Ahlmark. Neither Melchior, Ahlmark, nor Cotler was specific as to how the organization would be funded or how many members it would have. Developing a board an a president is one of its first tasks, Cotler said. Eventually, national committees would also be set up in each participating country. The International Commission for Combating Anti-Semitism will initially also have offices in New York and Jerusalem.
NYT 5 Jan 2002 Israel Seizes Ship It Says Was Arming Palestinians By JAMES BENNET with JOEL GREENBERG - JERUSALEM, Jan. 4 The Israeli Army said today that it had seized a ship carrying 50 tons of rockets, mines, anti-tank missiles and other munitions meant for Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority, even as the Bush administration's envoy met with Mr. Arafat in the hope of strengthening his declared cease-fire with Israel. Palestinian officials denied any link to the ship, the Karine A, and dismissed the announcement a day after the seizure as propaganda timed to undermine Mr. Arafat. But Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, chief of staff of the Israeli Army, said that the Karine A was owned by the Palestinian Authority, which governs Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and that its captain and several of its officers were members of the Palestinian naval police. "The P.A. is drenched from head to toe with terror," General Mofaz said. The capture of the Karine A came as the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and other senior officials were trying to persuade the Bush administration's envoy, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, that Mr. Arafat did not deserve American sympathy, much less support, despite a two-week lull in Palestinian attacks. They argue that a halt to violence that Mr. Arafat announced on Dec. 16 was merely tactical, intended to relieve tremendous international pressure that he crush militant groups. During brief public remarks in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he met with Mr. Arafat, the retired Marine general made no mention of the Karine A and instead focused on getting the peace talks back on track, saying that he felt "we have the conditions that are right to make progress this time." In Washington, senior Bush administration officials acknowledged that the United States had been involved in tracking the Karine A, although they said American forces did not participate in the mission to seize the ship. The officials said they had no evidence that the weapons were destined for the Palestinian Authority, and instead raised the possibility that the arms were headed to the anti-Israeli Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. [Page A5.] The mission to seize the ship began Thursday at dawn in the Red Sea, 300 miles from Israel, when navy commandos swept aboard the vessel, Israeli military officials said. Backed by combat helicopters, the commandos surprised the crew and took control without a fight, they said. Most of the military equipment found aboard the ship was from Iran, General Mofaz said. Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said that General Zinni had discussed the incident with Mr. Arafat and urged him to "find an explanation of the situation." Mr. Boucher said that the general expressed "our strong condemnation of any attempts to escalate the conflict in the region by militant groups or others." General Zinni's first visit here as envoy ended abruptly in mid-December after a surge in violence. The general learned of the raid on the ship this morning, at a meeting with Mr. Sharon at his ranch in southern Israel. Later, while General Zinni was meeting with Mr. Arafat, General Mofaz held a news conference in Tel Aviv to reveal the raid to the public. The two men watched General Mofaz on television, said a Palestinian close to Mr. Arafat. Despite the attention paid to the ship incident, General Zinni concentrated on getting the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. He is coaxing them to begin a series of steps toward peace that they agreed upon months ago. Palestinian officials say the Israelis are inventing Palestinian threats to avoid talking peace, for fear of painful political or territorial concessions. They suggested that the timing of today's announcement was too convenient. "We wonder why they chose this particular time, when Zinni was meeting with President Arafat, to make such a declaration," said Yasir Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian Authority's minister of information. "I think they wanted to affect the result and the atmosphere created in the past week." The Israeli Army said it had delayed announcing the raid until today because the ship was in foreign waters, putting Israeli soldiers in danger. The ship was under Israeli control tonight on its way to Eilat, the only Israeli port on the Red Sea. Eilat is at the sea's northeastern tip. Mr. Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian Authority would investigate the Israeli accusations and welcome help from the United States or any other third party. But, he said, "We insist that the Palestinian Authority has nothing to do with this ship." General Mofaz said that the inventory of the Karine A, a 4,000-ton vessel, included Katyusha rockets with ranges of up to 12 miles, mortars, sophisticated explosives, sniper rifles and bullets. Maj. Gen. Yedidya Yaari, the commander of the Israeli Navy, said that the weapons were packed in 83 crates with waterproof plastic sleeves for drop-off at sea. Buoys marking the packages would permit their retrieval, he said. The generals did not disclose the ship's origin, destination or the flag, if any, it was flying. They said that an investigation was still in progress. General Mofaz said that the arms were intended to be smuggled into areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and could have "dramatically changed the level of danger" to Israeli civilians and soldiers and "significantly increased the scope of terror actions against us." He called the Palestinian Authority's involvement in the smuggling "unequivocal, clear and undeniable." The Oslo accord between Israel and the Palestinians set limits on the number and type of weapons that the Palestinian Authority was allowed to have. Israel charges that the authority has already far exceeded those limits. At his meeting with General Zinni, Mr. Sharon and other officials asserted that Palestinian militants were preparing attacks as they temporarily held their fire to comply with Mr. Arafat's call for a cease- fire, a senior Israeli official said. According to the official, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the American envoy, "We're sitting on a powder keg." A statement from Mr. Sharon's office said that General Zinni was told that only pressure from the United States and Europe could compel Mr. Arafat to crack down on militant groups. The Israeli Army said this week that since Mr. Arafat's appeal for a halt in violence, Palestinian attacks have declined by almost half. The army pulled its troops back from positions in what is by treaty Palestinian-controlled territory in some Palestinian cities, and it eased blockades on some Palestinian areas. But the army said that in a raid today on the Palestinian village of Tel, near Nablus, it stopped a number of militants on their way to carry out a suicide attack on Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The army said one militant was killed in an exchange of fire, two others were captured and searches turned up weapons and ammunition. General Zinni plans to meet with Palestinian officials on Saturday. On Sunday, he plans to meet jointly with Palestinian and Israeli security chiefs. Mr. Arafat has been under virtual house arrest in his official compound in Ramallah since early December, when three Palestinian suicide bombers killed themselves and 26 other people. In what Israeli officials called an effort to keep the pressure on Mr. Arafat, Mr. Sharon did not permit him even to attend Mass on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Today, Mr. Sharon told General Zinni that he would also block Mr. Arafat from attending Orthodox Christmas observances this Sunday in Bethlehem, a senior Israeli official said. The official said that Mr. Sharon will permit Mr. Arafat to go to Bethlehem only if he arrests the killers of the Rehavam Zeevi, the Israeli tourism minister, who was shot dead in a hotel here on Oct. 17.
Japan Times: 1 Jan 2002 CLOSE NEIGHBORS? Japan hopes 'people exchanges' will improve ties Relations with neighbors remain poisoned by a history that is recalled in two different ways By JUNKO TAKAHASHI Staff writer This year, Japan cohosts the World Cup soccer finals with South Korea and marks the 30th anniversary of normalizing diplomatic ties with China. In 2001, however, bilateral relations were overshadowed by issues related to Japan's wartime past. This is the first article in an occasional series that will assess Japan's prospects of building truly close relationships with its northeast Asian neighbors. Japan's past came back to haunt it in 2001, leaving the nation to deal with soured relations with northeast Asian neighbors South Korea and China and placing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the defensive as he jetted abroad in an effort to make amends. On Oct. 8, Koizumi made a one-day trip to Beijing to make a "heartfelt apology" for Japan's wartime aggression against China. A week later, he was in Seoul, apologizing for the suffering Japan caused during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Koizumi's trips were in response to the angry reactions from China and South Korea to his Aug. 13 visit to Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead, including Class-A war criminals, are enshrined. Relations were further damaged by the government's approval of a controversial history textbook that has been criticized for whitewashing Japan's wartime atrocities. To Chinese and Koreans, the prime minister's Yasukuni visit and the government's approval of the controversial textbook had the appearance of an attempt to glorify Japan's past militarism. Japan's government, hoping to move on from the past, has dubbed 2002 "the year of people's exchange," celebrating the 30th anniversary of normalizing diplomatic relations with China and cohosting the World Cup soccer games with South Korea. Koizumi's efforts weren't in vain. Chinese President Jiang Zemin said Koizumi's October visit was the first step toward mending soured relations between the countries, and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung welcomed Koizumi's apology. However, experts believe Japan faces a long, hard road ahead in rebuilding relations with its northeast Asian neighbors. Had relations with South Korea developed smoothly, a long-anticipated Emperor's visit to South Korea might have been possible on the occasion of the World Cup opening ceremony in Seoul. But such a prospect has diminished following last year's tiffs, officials say. "Speaking from common sense, the Emperor's visit will not happen this year," a senior Foreign Ministry official said. At the same time, the experts also point out that perception is changing among young people in both countries. They also said China, in particular, is keen on improving ties with Japan as it tries to cope with the wave of globalization. "I don't think the one-day visit (to Beijing) solved all the problems," said Koichi Kato, a veteran Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who has close ties with China. "The visit marked one step forward, but the achievement was largely limited to confirming joint efforts in fighting against terrorism" after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Kato and LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki persuaded Koizumi to abandon his initial plan to visit Yasukuni on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender. "Had he visited on Aug. 15, it would have done even greater damage to bilateral relations," Kato said. "Having troubled relations with China would also undermine Japan's position vis-a-vis the United States as it cannot play the role of intermediary between China and the U.S." In April, Japan's relations with China were strained when Tokyo granted an entry visa to former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui. Relations soured further when Japan imposed import curbs on cheap farm products from China, triggering a trade row between the two countries. Relations between Tokyo and Seoul were hurt when South Korean boats gained permission from Russia to fish for saury in waters around the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that are claimed by Japan. Despite this ongoing animosity, China's reactions to recent wartime history-related issues have been relatively restrained, according to Ryosei Kokubun, a political science professor at Keio University and an expert on China. Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni did not trigger a major protest demonstration by Chinese students -- like the 1985 visit to the shrine by then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone -- and the Chinese government's criticism over the textbook and Yasukuni issues was not as strident as criticism from South Korea. According to Kokubun, China does not want relations with Japan to further deteriorate while China's ties with Washington remain shaky. "It is true that China-U.S. relations have improved after (Beijing supported the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign following) the Sept. 11 attacks . . . but China still sees the Bush administration as a potential threat," Kokubun said. Unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush has taken a tough stance against China, calling it a "strategic rival." China's rapid economic growth and its quest to join the World Trade Organization were the reason for its subdued response to disputes with Japan, Kokubun said. "The biggest interest of Chinese young people now is how to live through the age of globalization," he said. "They are realistic. They want to learn English and computers, and want to make money abroad." Zhu Jianrong, a professor of Chinese studies at Toyogakuen University, said China has grown more confident since hosting a series of major events over the past year, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, obtaining WTO membership and winning the right to host the 2008 Olympics Games. "China used to push hard on war-related issues because it lacked confidence and was truly afraid of Japan," Zhu said. "But people's perception of Japan is becoming more objective and flexible as (China) is gaining economic and diplomatic power." The rapid expansion of the Internet and the growing reach of the mass media are also changing the perception of the public, he said. "Until a few years ago, there were only about 70 newspapers published in China, but the number exceeds 1,000 now," Zhu said. "It's impossible for the government to check all of them, and authorities cannot control Internet transactions." The Internet is an important tool for improving understanding between Chinese and Japanese people, he said. Since 2000, Zhu has been a guest on an online forum held Aug. 15 each year by the People's Daily newspaper. He uses the forum to directly answer questions from Chinese people about Japan. During the exchanges with the Chinese citizens, critical messages eventually turn to words of understanding, according to Zhu. "This is just one example, but it's very important that Chinese who have a good understanding of Japan give objective views to ordinary Chinese citizens," he said, adding that he hopes Japanese experts on China will also engage in similar activities. Grassroots exchanges, such as soccer games among high school students and joint calligraphy workshops for elementary school children, are the most basic and important way to improve ties, according to the LDP's Kato. Events planned for this year include junior high school pingpong tournaments, exchanges of Japanese and Chinese language teachers, an exhibition of Japanese comic books, classical and rock music concerts in China, and Chinese performing art and ancient art exhibitions in Japan. "Through people-to-people exchanges, Chinese people will learn that the Japanese are not militants, while Japanese would feel familiar with Chinese if they learn that young people in China also like (Japanese pop groups) X Japan and SMAP," Kato said. In addition to citizen-level exchanges, building a stronger network of lawmakers and conducting regular exchanges of defense officials would beef up bilateral relations, he said. Perception toward Japan is also changing among young people in South Korea, according to Yi Ju Heum, a counselor for political affairs at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo. "My son is a college student, and he doesn't make any distinction between Europeans, Americans and Japanese," Yi said, suggesting that to his son's generation, Japan is just another foreign country. "Young people see today's Japan as it is, without the prejudices often held by older generations." Yi said he is optimistic about future bilateral relations and believes that 2002 will be a year to boost interactions through the World Cup soccer games and other events. "The World Cup will be a very important opportunity for the two countries to work together in the global stage," he said. Negotiating visa requirements between the two countries was also an important step toward increasing exchanges, he said. South Koreans must have a visa to visit Japan and, until today, were only allowed to stay in Japan for 15 days. Japanese citizens visiting South Korea, however, could travel visa-free and stay for up to 30 days. In late December, Japan gave in to demands from South Korea and decided to extend the term of stay to 90 days per visit starting today. South Koreans will be permitted to visit Japan without a visa only during the World Cup period, and such visits will be restricted to 30 days. Fuji Kamiya, a professor of international relations at Toyo Eiwa University and an expert on Korean issues, believes younger generations will enhance bilateral ties. Kamiya was a judge on a radio-based award program that looked at Japan-related publications and other works created by people from other Asian countries. The program, which ran for 15 years, ended in 1999. The award winner the final year was a South Korean man in his early 30s who wrote a book that welcomed a recent boom in Japanese comic books and cartoons in his home country. "He told me that young people do not see Korea-Japan relations as that of resentment and bitterness, and that it's time for Japanese culture to go into South Korea and Korean culture to come into Japan," Kamiya said. "Bilateral relations may not improve overnight, but it will eventually move for the better as generations change." Back in 1998, President Kim took a bold step during his visit to Japan, declaring his intentions to put the past behind and foster "future-oriented" relations. Kim also lifted South Korea's decades-old ban on Japanese cultural products. With history being the main cause of friction between Japan and its neighbors throughout the last year, Japan must face up to its past before it can move forward. "What we see as a problem is that Japan is not facing up to its own history," Yi said, adding that building a common understanding about historical facts through joint research is important. "Even if it is difficult to have a common interpretation of the historical facts, it's important to understand how the other side feels about those facts and let the people of each country learn about them." In October, Koizumi and Kim agreed to establish an expert panel to conduct such a study.
AP 26 Dec 2002 Chinese Seek Germ Warfare Reparations By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer TOKYO (AP) - Relatives of Chinese victims of alleged World War II germ attacks wrapped up a court case Wednesday that seeks to force Japan's government to take responsibility and pay reparations. Eight plaintiffs, representing a group of 180 people who sued the Japanese government in 1997, gave their final testimony in Tokyo District Court. A verdict is expected early next year. ``We lost our houses. We lost people. Our village was destroyed,'' said Wang Jindi, 67, from Chongshan village in China's western province of Zhejian. ``For nearly 60 years now, I have stayed angry over what the Japanese military did to us.'' In October 1942, Jindi's younger brother, uncle and five other relatives died within days of developing plague that China contends was spread by the Japanese army's germ warfare unit. Two months later, Japanese soldiers burned the entire village, leaving 700 people homeless. The lawsuit contends at least 2,100 Chinese were killed in biological warfare experiments conducted by Unit 731, a Japanese army unit based in northern China. Some Japanese veterans have testified they mass-produced cholera, dysentery, anthrax and typhoid at the unit's base in Harbin in the early 1940s. The Japanese government has refused to confirm those accounts. It acknowledged the existence of Unit 731 several years ago after decades of denial, but has yet to disclose its activities. Historians say Japanese units used biological weapons mostly in 1940-42, before the war started to turn against Japan. ``Crimes committed by Japan's Unit 731 was as serious as the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States,'' said plaintiff Gao Mingshun, 57, whose five relatives died of plague in 1941.
AFP 10 Jan 2002 Ethnic minority rebels killed seven villagers in Myanmar BANGKOK: The state-run Myanmar television reported late Wednesday that ethnic Karenni insurgents recently killed seven people in eastern Myanmar. It said 15 rebels from the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) entered Lawpita village in Kayar state, located some 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the capital, Yangon, on December 30 last year and killed six men. The victims were working in a gems mine located near the Lawpita village, the report said. One villager escaped from the massacre, it added. The seventh victim, an elderly man, was shot dead in front of his farm house on January 1 by three KNPP guerrillas in Shansu village of Kaya State, TV Myanmar said. According to the report, the guerrillas asked the villagers to enrol in the KNPP but the victims refused. The KNPP minority group, which has more than one thousand fighters, agreed to a ceasefire with the ruling military junta in 1995. But the government broke the accord a few months later when it sent a large number of troops into the rebel-controlled areas.
Reuters 7 Jan 2002 Singapore Believes Arrests Broke Up Terror -- Singapore Arrests 15 Terror Suspects (Reuters) By Amy Tan SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore believes it has broken up a network of militants targeting the U.S. Embassy and American businesses after arresting 15 people with suspected links to Osama bin Laden 's al Qaeda group. ``We believe that the network has been disrupted. There is no information of any imminent threat,'' the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement received by Reuters on Monday. ``American establishments, including the U.S. Embassy and commercial entities, were the principal targets for attack.'' The 15 suspects -- 14 Singaporeans and one Malaysian -- were arrested between Dec. 9 and 24 using laws allowing detention without trial, the government said on Saturday. Searches of the homes and offices of the suspects yielded detailed information on bomb construction, photographs and videos of targets under surveillance, al Qaeda-linked material, tampered passports and forged immigration stamps, it said. Singapore's announcement came a day after Malaysia said it had locked up 13 suspects with possible links to the elusive Saudi-born bin Laden, Washington's prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, and his al Qaeda network. Malaysia and Singapore are two of the most stable countries in the region, but their neighbors Indonesia and the Philippines are plagued by ethnic and religious violence. Singapore has backed the U.S.-led campaign on terrorism, including military action. Malaysia has also supported the U.S. fight against terrorism, but has objected to U.S. bombing in Afghanistan because of the danger posed to civilians. Both countries were among the Southeast Asian nations that signed an accord in November to stamp out cross-border terrorism. In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed the arrests in Singapore. ``We applaud this specific action. We think it reflects their determination to fight against international terrorism,'' he told a daily briefing. ``There have been arrests in Malaysia as well for groups with apparent links to al Qaeda. They have arrested a number of terrorist suspects and they, too, have shown great determination in the fight against terrorism,'' he added. Investigations in Singapore are continuing but the government has said it believes there are links between the 15 suspects and Kumpulan Militan Malaysia, an organization in which the 13 people arrested in Malaysia were allegedly members, as well as al Qaeda. Several of the suspects detained in Singapore had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, the government said. The arrests were backed by Muslim leaders in multicultural Singapore, which is flanked by giant Muslim-majority neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia. While there are no signs of rising racial tensions, Singapore continued to call for restraint and calm among the Chinese, Malay and Indian communities. ``As investigations are on-going, we should avoid speculation,'' the ministry statement said. ``The public should be assured that there is no cause for panic.''
BBC 10 Jan 2002 Norway peace team in Sri Lanka An attack on Colombo airport shattered tourism A Norwegian peace delegation has arrived in Sri Lanka to help revive talks to end the country's long-running civil war. The team, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen, is due to meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and his foreign minister. What we are going to do first is to formalise the ceasefire Constitutional Affairs Minister G Peiris Hopes for peace have brightened after the election of Mr Wickramasinghe's United National Party last month, with the new government reciprocating a truce offer by the separatist Tamil Tigers. Earlier peace attempts failed with the previous government of Chandrika Kumaratunga accusing the Norwegians of favouring the rebels. Peace hopes The new government also met another rebel condition as a prelude to peace talks - easing an economic blockade on rebel-held territory. Wickramasinghe's election has led to fresh hope "What we are going to do first is to formalise the ceasefire through a document that is acceptable to both sides," Constitutional Affairs Minister Gamini Peiris said. " The help of the Norwegians in this regard will be enormously useful." But any peace deal would require the approval of Ms Kumaratunga - who remains the country's president. Norway has been trying to broker talks between the two sides for the past three years, but has still not been able to facilitate a direct meeting. Last week, a Norwegian team met the rebels' chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, in London and later described the talks as "constructive". Venue blow The Tigers were also reported to have indicated a desire for talks to be held in Madras, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu chief minister But on Thursday the chief minister of Tamil Nadu said his government will not allow the Tigers to use Madras as a venue for peace talks. Chief Minister Panneer Selvam, said: "The [Tamil Tigers are] an extremist outfit banned by the federal government. There is no possibility of allowing the Tigers to have a base here for conducting their talks with the Sri Lankan Government." Mr Selvam said he would be writing to the central government to inform them of his view. There has been no response so far from India on the issue. Violence The current ceasefire, which began on 24 December, is due to last one month and is the first time in seven years that both sides have observed a halt in hostilities. Last July the Tigers carried out one of their most audacious raids, targeting the country's only international airport in the capital, Colombo, and an adjacent military base in an attack that left at least 18 people dead.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur 17 Jan 2002 Ho Chi Minh City officials go on book-burning spree DATELINE: Hanoi Communist authorities in Vietnam's largest city have torched tons of books deemed culturally poisonous by watchdogs, state media and officials said Thursday. Ho Chi Minh City police on Wednesday set aflame 7.6 tons of books confiscated last year during various raids by teams of investigators, the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper reported. The bulk of the illicit material was pornographic magazines and books, as well as materials printed overseas. An officer in the city police's cultural security division confirmed the book burning. "Such events take place many times a year as the volume of books is too large to be stored," said the officer, who asked not to be named. The event comes days after Hanoi announced measures that formalize restrictions on prohibited publications, including those written by some of Vietnam's leading dissidents. Decision 12, signed by Vice Minister of Culture and Information Phan Khac Hai, allows police to seize and destroy publications lacking official approval. The Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper reported that books subject to the new regulation included the diary of General Tran Do, the former head of the party's ideology commission, who was expelled from the party and is now a well-known dissident. Also singled out for confiscation was "Meditation and Aspiration" by dissident geophysicist Nguyen Thanh Giang, and "A Few Words Before Dying", an essay by dissident Vu Cao Quan. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalist on Wednesday wrote to Vietnam President Tran Duc Luong protesting the decision. "CPJ condemns your government's efforts to censor dissenting political views," the committee's executive director, Ann Cooper wrote. dpa mm rk
AP 9 Jan 2002 Rwandan Nuns, Man Lose Appeals BRUSSELS, Belgium — Belgium's supreme court rejected appeals Wednesday from two Rwandan nuns and a businessman convicted of war crimes during the central African nation's 1994 genocide. The three were given jail sentences of up to 20 years in June after a landmark trial under laws authorizing Belgian courts to try war crimes committed abroad. The decision confirming the sentences was welcomed by friends and relatives of genocide victims. ``This encourages us to continue to struggle in other cases. This was just the first,'' said Melanie Uwamaliya, who lost family members. Sister Gertrude, the former Consolata Mukangango, received a 15-year sentence for assisting a mob that killed thousands seeking shelter at the Sovu convent in southern Rwanda, where she was mother superior. Fellow Roman Catholic nun Sister Maria Kisito, also known as Julienne Mukabutera, was jailed for 12 years for her role in the massacre. Alphonse Higiniro, a prominent businessman and former Rwandan government minister, received a a 20-year sentence for helping plan and carry out massacres of the Tutsi minority in the southern city of Butare. A fourth man convicted at the same trial, university professor Vincent Ntezimana, did not appeal his 12-year sentence. Lawyers for the three had appealed to the Court of Cassation, Belgium's highest judicial authority, claiming irregularities in the trial. The case was the first under a 1993 law granting Belgian courts jurisdiction to try war crimes wherever they take place. The three defendants had fled to Belgium after the massacres. Human rights campaigners hailed the trial as a breakthrough in denying safe havens to suspected war criminals. Lawyers representing Rwandan victims said the ruling would encourage further prosecutions. Lawyers have lodged complaints under the 1993 law and supplementary 1999 legislation against several world figures, including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Cuban President Fidel Castro and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The rush of cases has embarrassed the Belgium government, which plans to submit amendments to the law making it harder to file actions against serving politicians. Lawyers representing the defendants said they may take the case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg, France. ``For Belgian justice, it is finished. There is no more recourse,'' said Serge Wahis, who represented Sister Maria Kisito. ``We will now look calmly at the possibility of taking this to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.''
AP 9 Jan 2002 Book of horrors At the local Red Cross office [in St.Louis, Missouri], there's a history book sent from the other side of the world. Few want to open it because the pages document a bloody chapter of history few want to revisit. The Book of Personal Belongings, two volumes thick, is filled with thousands of photographs of lost possessions. Everything is soiled with dirt: clothing, jewelry, combs, Polaroids. The possessions belonged to the dead, and the dirt came from mass graves. The book was sent to the United States in a Red Cross experiment to aid in the accounting of the 18 000 people missing from the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s. The Red Cross wants to see if the refugee community in St Louis - among the largest in the United States - can help shorten the list of the missing by recognising items in the book. The volumes are also a test of sorts to see how willing these new Americans are to face a haunting past. It's a disheartening task. Family members look for familiar objects, personal items belonging to loved ones who have not been seen for years. On each page of the book there are four photographs showing one, two or a few objects found on a recovered body. Sometimes it's a distinctive item of clothing. Or maybe it's a dog-eared family snapshot, with smiling faces. Moving on Many Bosnians have presumed their relatives are dead, and have tried to move on. "We had one man who sobbed for three hours," said Lejla Susic, a native of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. She is now the international specialist at the St Louis Red Cross. "Sometimes people are stoic, and other times they're not." St Louis was chosen because of the size of the Bosnian community here - an estimated 35 000 people. Hundreds of those families came from the area near Srebrenica, site of what has been called the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. Between 7 000 and 10 000 Bosnian Muslim men were systematically killed when Serb forces overran Srebrenica in 1995. Thousands were buried in mass graves around the town. Others were left unburied. So far, the Book of Personal Belongings only includes those from bodies found near Srebrenica. To notify people about the book, the Red Cross mailed letters to Bosnians throughout St Louis. Word of mouth has helped alert immigrants to the book. "There's such a grapevine, I think everybody's heard about it," said Ron Klutho, a resettlement case worker who assists Bosnians in St Louis. 'Strain of suspicion' Yet few have stepped forward to look through the book. Klutho said many Bosnians have made forgetting the past a part of their adjustment to the United States. Others doubt they can truly find answers about lost relatives. "Some of them are just not psychologically ready," Klutho said. "There's a strain of suspicion in them that, because of what happened, that they don't want to trust anybody." Susic suspects it has more to do with her fellow Bosnians being busy in their new lives - or sometimes, using their hectic schedule as an excuse to delay the discomfort. "A lot of people are kind of swamped by the American lifestyle and they have no time," Susic said. "Of course, they would rather work overtime and work weekends rather than come here and face the book." Identifying objects in the photographs is only one part of an international effort to solve the thousands of mysteries left by the Bosnian War. In the former Yugoslavia, laboratories have been opened where scientists are assembling a DNA database. Samples are collected from unidentified remains, usually found in the mass graves which are still occasionally discovered. Bosnian refugees around the world are being asked to offer a drop or two of their blood, for DNA cross-checking. Meanwhile, the Red Cross maintains a long list of the missing, always accepting new information about someone's last whereabouts. At every step of the way, the detective work requires people willing to confront a horrible past. "It takes the whole world, all these people putting little pieces of the puzzle together," Susic said. "That's why it's so important."
AP 11 Jan 2002 Today in History Today's Highlight in History: In 1977, France set off an international uproar by releasing Abu Daoud, a PLO official behind the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
January 11, 2002 French Film Director Verneuil Dies By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 11:24 a.m. ET PARIS (AP) -- Henri Verneuil, a prolific French filmmaker who directed some of France's greatest movie stars, died Friday, according to the French Fine Arts Academy. He was 81. Among Verneuil's most memorable films is ``La Vache et le Prisonnier'' (The Cow and I), a charming film about a man's adventures with a stubborn cow, made in 1959. Verneuil directed such giants of the French cinema as Jean Gabin and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Both appeared in Verneuil's 1962 film, ``Un Singe en Hiver'' (A Monkey in Winter). Born in Turkey, Verneuil was a naturalized French citizen of Armenian ancestry. In 1991, he directed ``Mayrig,'' a film dealing with the Armenian genocide starring Omar Sharif and Claudia Cardinale. In 1996, Verneuil was awarded an honorary Cesar, France's equivalent of the Oscar, for lifetime achievement in film.
Guardian (UK) 5 Jan 2002 Cognac and genocide - Historians have argued over the Wannsee Protocol's importance in the Nazis' development of the final solution. Mark Roseman is in no doubt. In March 1947, collecting information for the Nuremberg trials, staff of the US prosecutor made the discovery. Stamped Geheime Reichs-sache ("Secret Reich matter") and tucked away in a German Foreign Office folder were the minutes of a meeting, involving 15 top Nazi civil servants, SS and party officials, that had taken place on January 20 1942 in a villa on the shores of lake Wannsee near Berlin. The US officials had stumbled across the only surviving copy of the minutes, number 16 of 30, since dubbed "the most shameful document of modern history". In charge of prosecuting the German ministries was Robert Kempner, a German Jew who had emigrated to the US in the 1930s. When the document was unearthed, Kempner rushed to his boss, General Telford Taylor, with the news. "Is such a thing possible?" Taylor asked. The meeting had been convened by Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's deputy, head of the Nazi Security Service (SD), chief of the German security police, Reichsprotektor of the occupied Czech territories and one of the most feared men in Germany. On this snowy January day, Heydrich had assembled a group of senior men equivalent to permanent secretaries in the British civil service. These were the men, in Kempner's phrase, "who knew what you had to know". Some were representatives of civilian ministries with responsibilities for the Jewish question within the German Reich; some represented agencies with responsibilities for Jews outside Germany. Officials from SS and party bodies with an interest in race issues had been invited too. In addition to the invitees, Heydrich had instructed men from his own security empire to attend. The most senior was Heydrich's direct subordinate, the secret police chief "Gestapo-Muller", and below him, the man who had done the legwork for the meeting, Adolf Eichmann. There was also Rudolf Lange, head of Einsatzkommando 2, freshly flown in after carrying out mass murders in Riga. The minutes, or "Wannsee Protocol" (Protokoll is the German term for minutes), consist largely of a presentation by Heydrich, who began by reminding his guests that Reichsmarschall Goring had entrusted him with preparing the "final solution" of the European Jewish question. The purpose of the meeting was to establish "clarity" on fundamental questions. The Reichsmarschall's desire for an outline of the organisational, policy and technical prerequisites for the final solution made it necessary to bring the central organisations together and ensure that their policies were "properly coordinated". What coordination meant above all, as Heydrich was at pains to point out, was that overall control of the final solution lay with his boss Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer SS and chief of the German police, and specifically with Heydrich as Himmler's representative. Heydrich then reminded his audience of the recent history of Nazi action against the Jews. The principal goals had been to remove Jews from German society and then from German soil. In the past, the only solution available had been promoting Jewish emigration, a policy that led in 1939 to the creation of the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration. But the Reichsfuhrer SS had now stopped emigration in view of the dangers it raised during wartime and the "new possibilities" in the east. Instead of emigration, Heydrich continued, the Fuhrer had given his approval for a new kind of solution - the "evacuation" of Jews to the east. With breathtaking calmness, the minutes continue with the observation that around 11m Jews would be affected. A table was provided listing European countries and their Jewish populations. Dramatically, it included not only countries under German control (part A), but also Germany's European allies, neutral countries, and those with whom it was at war (part B). Some of the statistics were awry, but many were roughly accurate, including the 330,000 Jews listed as residing in the United Kingdom (or "England" as it appears in the minutes). If Germany had defeated Britain, those Jews too would have been swept up into the final solution. But what did "evacuation" (Evakuierung) mean? The protocol is never entirely explicit, but it offers some clues. There was a lengthy discussion about half-and quarter-Jews and those in mixed marriages. In the course of this discussion, two things are made clear. One is that privileged cases would be deported to an "old age" ghetto; deportation to a ghetto was thus different from "evacuation". Secondly, some very privileged cases (mainly half-and quarter-Jews) would be allowed to stay in the Reich as long as they accepted sterilisation. It was assumed they would prefer sterilisation to evacuation; evacuation was thus clearly worse than sterilisation. Heydrich gave the game away, however, when talking about those Jews who were deemed fit for work: "In the course of the final solution and under appropriate leadership, the Jews should be put to work in the east. In large, single-sex labour columns, Jews fit to work will work their way eastwards constructing roads. Doubtless the majority will be eliminated by natural causes. Any final remnant that survives will consist of the most resistant elements. They will have to be dealt with appropriately, because otherwise, by natural selection, they would form the germ cell of a new Jewish revival." If being "dealt with appropriately" was to be the fate of even the fittest workers, there can be little doubt what was planned for those deemed unfit for work. "Evacuation" was a journey that could only end in death. At his trial in 1961, Eichmann revealed more about this meeting. It was the "first time in my life", he recalled, that he had taken part "in such a conference in which... senior officials participated. It was conducted quietly and with much courtesy, with much friendliness. There was not much speaking and it did not last a long time. The waiters served cognac, and in this way it ended." There has never been a more sinister rehearsal of the orderly governance of genocide. Yet the protocol is a deeply mysterious document. On the face of it, it captures the moment when the Nazis decided to eliminate the Jews. The prosecutors believed they had found the Rosetta Stone of Nazi murder. But historians have long argued that it cannot be what it seems. For one thing, Hitler was not there, and none of those present - even Heydrich - was in a position to decide on genocide. Above all, the timing seems wrong. The mass murder of Soviet Jews had begun half a year earlier. Jews had been gassed at Chelmno since December 1941. The Belzec extermination camp was under construction. What, then, was the purpose of the gathering? Perhaps the biggest point of consensus among historians is, as Eberhard Jackel has argued, that "the most remarkable thing about the Wannsee conference is that we do not know why it took place". Until recently, most historians discounted the idea that a new plan had been tabled and interpreted the meeting as an exercise in self-aggrandisement on the part of its convenor, Heydrich. If this were correct, the protocol's significance would be simply that it offers with appalling clarity a picture of matters long decided elsewhere. Yet such an interpretation does little to explain the protocol's claim that the meeting was necessary to establish a "comprehensive solution of the Jewish question" and above all Heydrich's suggestion that, at the time of meeting, the solution had yet to be prepared. It is only in the last decade, as Nazi materials locked in Soviet archives have come to light, that we have gained a new insight into the conference's function. Yet by and large, the documents do not relate directly to Wannsee itself. Nor do they fill many gaps in the record at the very top. With few exceptions, Hitler did not allow his decisions on the Jewish question to be recorded. There is little written down of his exchanges with Himmler, crucial in shaping the progress of the final solution. Even the discovery of Himmler's appointments calendar has not provided the clear-cut evidence of genocidal decisions that some had hoped to see in it. What this new material has done is reveal the important and macabre fact that mass murders of Jews in Europe in autumn 1941 preceded rather than followed on from a central decision to carry out the genocide of European Jews. Sometimes, as in Serbia or Galicia, regional commanders took the initiative, and carried out killings following the example of the Einsatzkommandos in the Soviet Union. Sometimes, as in the Warthegau, special deals were struck between regional commanders in the field and Himmler at the centre, to clear out specific regions to meet population targets. Death was in the air, but it was not yet decided that the final solution meant murder alone. The thrust of this recent research, then, is to suggest that the slippage from brutal occupation policies to genocidal measures took place without a comprehensive set of commands from the centre. The centre, and Himmler in particular, was consulted in almost every case. But neither Hitler nor Himmler provided a clear-cut plan or even a fundamental command for the lower echelons to carry out. Thus, in September 1941, when Hitler agreed to the deportation eastwards of German and other European Jews, he may still have been thinking of a territory where they could be dumped. They would not thrive, and in the end they would probably die out, but they would not necessarily be butchered as their Soviet counterparts were. Against the backdrop of regional killing initiatives, however, the following months saw the dividing line between a territorial solution and that of outright murder becoming very thin indeed. Historians disagree as to when a territorial model was given up - when, in other words, "evacuation" became a simple euphemism for murder and the final solution came to mean genocide. But there is evidence that October-November 1941 was the period in which this transition took place. The Wannsee conference was originally scheduled for December 9 1941. In the two weeks before the invitations went out at the end of November, we know that Himmler and Heydrich arranged a series of meetings. In mid-November, Himmler and Rosenberg had a lengthy confabulation. A couple of days later, Himmler and Heydrich conferred to coordinate their policy, among other things, on "eliminating the Jews". On November 24 it was the turn of the interior ministry's Wilhelm Stuckart to confer with Himmler. Number three of the four points in Himmler's calendar was "Jewish question - belongs to me". On November 28 Himmler had yet another meeting on the issue - this time with his senior SS representative in Poland, Friedrich-Wilhelm Kruger, to discuss the obstacles that civilian administrators were putting in the way of "central management of Jewish questions". The conference was then delayed by US entry into the war and uncertainty on the eastern front. Before it eventually convened in January, there were more encounters, notably between Himmler and Buhler on January 13. Himmler and Heydrich were seeking to assert their primacy in a genocidal programme that was just taking shape. In short, the Wannsee conference, which once seemed far distanced from the moments of decision, is regaining its importance in the process of turning mass murders into genocide.
Sunday Independent 6 Jan 2002 Fateful steps on road to internment British Cabinet Papers from 1971 reveal the lead-up to 'a last fling', writes Ronan Fanning THE introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland on August 9, 1971 produced catastrophic consequences. Thirty-four people had so far been killed in 1971 but another 140 were killed before the year ended. That escalation in deaths was sustained throughout 1972, the worst year of violence, when the death-rate was in excess of one a day. The only beneficiaries of internment were the Provisional IRA whose numbers soared and whose claims to legitimacy, in Catholic eyes, seemed less spurious. Now, with the release of the papers for 1971, we are able to disentangle fact from myth and, in particular, to discover why Ted Heath's government agreed to back such a disastrous policy. For, although the announcement of the decision fell to Brian Faulkner, the last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Faulkner needed British approval not least because internment could never have been implemented without the involvement of British security forces. The issue of internment had arisen in December 1970 when the Northern Ireland Government asked London if emergency contingency plans could be drawn up to use HMS Maidstone (a ship anchored in Belfast Lough and used to accommodate troops) as a place of internment. British Ministers recoiled, not in principle but because the proposal was "too sensational and ... more photogenic than a prison or a barbed wire camp". Although the Home Secretary (Reginald Maudling) and Defence Secretary (Lord Carrington) pushed through "a contingency study (rather than a contingency plan) dealing with the practical problems of internment", that information was not conveyed to Northern Ireland Prime Minister, James Chichester-Clark, when he met Heath at Chequers on February 13. Chichester-Clark then declared himself against internment, as were the RUC and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the British forces. By March 2, however, right-wing Unionist pressure in regard to the deteriorating security situation had pushed Chichester-Clark to the brink of resignation and the UK Representative at Stormont, Ronnie Burroughs, was recommending that, as "a time-saving device", Chichester-Clark be authorised to say he was in consultation with Heath's government about preparing accommodation for internees. When the British Cabinet discussed Northern Ireland for the first time at its 13th meeting of the year, Maudling reported that, although increasing IRA activity was creating "a serious situation" in Catholic areas, "the Army were continuing to keep the situation under control" and there was no mention of internment. But on the same day, March 9, the pressure on Chichester-Clark increased when three off-duty Scottish soldiers were lured from a pub and murdered by the Provisional IRA. On March 13, Ronnie Burroughs reported that the Head of the Special Branch now considered internment essential, "not because he believes it will be effective (Director of Intelligence believes we might pick up about 20 per cent and then mostly small fry) but because he fears that the Protestants will take the law into their own hands". Burroughs disagreed, arguing that "to arrest only a fraction would still leave the IRA as the masters of fear in the Belfast enclaves" and that the time was past when "the open threat of internment" could prop up Chichester-Clark A brief prepared on March 16 for Heath by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Burke Trend, having rehearsed the arguments for the introduction of direct rule from Westminster, also reviewed the case for internment. He, too, pointed out that "the reprisal effect would be more marked" than the deterrent effect of interning, at best, 20 per cent of suspects. He concluded with a question which provides the key to understanding British policy in 1971: "is internment, with all its disadvantages, preferable to direct rule?" But answering that question was postponed because, when Chichester-Clark met Heath on the same day and sought more drastic security measures, he said nothing about internment. Thus the conclusions of the next British Cabinet meetings when Northern Ireland was next discussed (on March 18 and 22) make no mention of internment; nor does a note for the record of the sequence of events leading to Chichester-Clark's resignation, on March 20. On March 23 Brian Faulkner succeeded him, having defeated William Craig by 26 votes to 4 a week after Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Patrick Hillery, had prophetically warned the British Ambassador, John Peck, that the "greatest danger" was that Chichester-Clark would be replaced not by William Craig but by Faulkner who was "plausible enough and could convey an impression of moderation which might bamboozle Westminster and the moderate Unionists in Stormont". Nor was there any discussion of internment when Faulkner first met Heath on April 1. On April 20, however, Maudling advised Heath that the construction of an internment camp at Long Kesh "represented the most feasiblesolution". On July 21, the Ministry of Defence advised Downing Street that the GOC had reported that renewed pressure was building within Faulkner's government and that Faulkner himself was suggesting that "the time may have come to think again about internment". Although the GOC, fully supported by the Defence Secretary, still believed that the arguments against internment remained "very strong" and that other ways of disrupting the IRA (such as systematically harassing suspected IRA leaders) should be tried first, the resort to internment was represented as "primarily a political decision". The British Cabinet's fateful and only substantive discussion of internment took place next day, on July 22. The Home Secretary, Reggie Maudling, as the Minister responsible at Westminster for Northern Ireland, advised his colleagues that they "had seriously to contemplate" the institution of direct rule if Faulkner's administration lost its authority and was replaced by a regime whose policies were unacceptable in other words an administration led by Craig or Paisley. The crucial moment in the discussion was the need to confront the question anticipated by the Cabinet Secretary, Burke Trends, four months earlier: was internment preferable to direct rule? The answer was "that the institution of direct rule should be regarded as a policy of last resort and that before it was adopted it might well be right to agree that the Northern Ireland Government should invoke their powers of internment". In effect, the Cabinet had given the Prime Minister and the Ministerial Committee on Northern Ireland carte blanche to endorse internment if they saw fit. Burke Trend's memorandum of July 28 for the Ministerial Committee puts flesh on the "strong view at Cabinet ... that internment should precede direct rule, particularly since we might well be creating subsequent political embarrassment for ourselves if we needed, under direct rule, to use a weapon which we had earlier denied to the Northern Ireland Government". The corollary was that if, as so many in Whitehall predicted, internment was a disaster, then the blame would fall on Faulkner's administration rather than on Heath's. The other tactical element in the timing of internment revolved around "reaching, and emerging from August 12 [the day of the Apprentice Boys' march in Derry] without a catastrophe" this was the march which had triggered the start of the killing and the commitment of British troops in 1969 and it had been banned in 1970. In 1971, the GOC had been asked whether he would be "prepared to take a chance in terms of security" with a rerouted march because of "the political advantage to Mr Faulkner" that would thereby accrue. It was also decided to instruct the British Ambassador in Dublin, John Peck, to call on Taoiseach Jack Lynch on July 31 to seek "a substantive reaction" to the prospect of internment the Cabinet had also decided on July 22 that the introduction of internment should not depend on the Irish government's response, particularly because it would subject Lynch "to increasing political pressure which would not coincide with (British) interests". This anxiety to minimise political embarrassment to Lynch's government is a persistent theme in British policy throughout 1971. "Mr Lynch is the best Irish Prime Minister we are likely to have," observed the Foreign Secretary, Alec Douglas-Home, in a memorandum to Ted Heath as early as March 3. By the end of March, Heath was anxious to arrange a meeting with Lynch in London as quickly as possible and he was unhappy when the date initially proposed was late October. Lynch's reaction, reported Peck, "while calm and courteous, was firm and immediate". He stated categorically "that he could not possibly contemplate internment at the present time, there were no immediate grounds for doing so, and ... neither his nor any Irish government could survive such a measure". He also predicted, in uncharacteristically strong language, that internment "would produce an explosion which it would be impossible to contain" and that "all the moderates would identify with the internees". Although, when pressed by Peck, Lynch expressed a preference for direct rule as opposed to an "election and a Paisley-led government, ... he reverted again and again to the unwisdom of internment". The meeting ended with Lynch and Peck agreeing "explicitly that (their) conversation on internment had not taken place and that as few people as possible anywhere should know of it"; Lynch added that "he might be forced to express his objections [as he duly did] but would not give any hint that there had been any consultation on the subject". Nor did he and the fact that Lynch knew internment was coming more than a week before its introduction has remained veiled in secrecy until today. Lynch's views that internment would "lead to greater polarisation of opinion and ... make it harder to promote policies of co-operation and reconciliation" were endorsed by Burke Trend in another memorandum to the Prime Minister on August 2. The die was cast on August 4 when Faulkner told Maudling that he was "now firmly of the opinion that internment is desirable". Another sceptic was Heath's Principal Private Secretary, Robert Armstrong, who was subsequently to play a key role as Cabinet Secretary in the talks leading to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. On internment, he wrote in a withering personal minute to the Prime Minister, "the argument that seems to me to carry great force is Lord Carrington's: it is a last fling. If this is right, it seems to me that it should be something which you do when you visibly have to, and not before: not as part of a deal for banning marches". But the meeting next day in Downing Street between Faulkner and a British Ministerial delegation consisting of Heath, Maudling, Douglas-Home and Carrington ratified just such a deal. Much more significant and the subject of a separate note for the record from Burke Trend to Robert Armstrong was the earlier private discussion when Heath and his colleagues "had made it clear to (Faulkner) that, if internment failed, there could be no question of then moving on to e.g. reviving the B Specials or anything of that sort. The next step, and the only remaining step, would be direct rule". Although direct rule was postponed until March 1972, the sudden plethora of British Cabinet discussions on Northern Ireland (six before the end of September) signalled the failure of the last fling. Together with Heath's hastily convened Chequers meetings in the same month first, on September 6-7, with Lynch and, second, on September 27-28 with Lynch and Faulkner they show that the larger historical significance of internment is that it served as the catalyst which irrevocably destroyed the credibility of exclusively Unionist government in Northern Ireland and so opened that path of consultation with the Irish government upon which the British government has continued until today. Ronan Fanning is Professor of Modern History at University College Dublin.
AP 9 Jan 2002 UN judge wants quick Kosovo trial for Milosevic THE HAGUE: A UN judge on Wednesday pushed for a quick trial when former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic goes to court for atrocities in Kosovo next month, ordering the prosecution to limit witnesses and court time. Presiding judge Richard May also cut off an ever-defiant Milosevic, in his last pre-trial appearance, when he again tried to attack the UN tribunal as illegal and biased. Judge May cut Milosevic's microphone several times after the former Yugoslav strongman charged that "the aim of the trial underway is to reverse the scene, the culprit and the accused to justify the crimes committed during the NATO agression against my country." He reminded the defendant that the hearing was strictly meant to iron out procedural details before scheduled start of the Kosovo trial on Febuary 12. "You will have the opportunity to outline your defense in trial. Now is not the time for speeches," May said. Milosevic, 60, in his fifth appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the 1998-1999 Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo. He is to face a second trial concerning war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia when the Kosovo case is finished, after a legal battle in which the court rejected the prosecution's bid to hold one single trial against Milosevic. Strains emerged again on Wednesday when the prosecution presented a witness list and a general timetable for its case. Clearly showing his discontent, Judge May told bluntly told prosecutors: "We have in mind a shorter case". The court cut the number of live witnesses to be called by the prosecution to 90, out of 110 it proposed. May also said he might trim the number of written statements to be admitted during the case. "You should be able to get through your case by recess," in the beginning August, May told deputy prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld. The former Yugoslav president has been in custody in The Hague for six months and has consistently refused any cooperation with the court, questioning its legality and refusing to mount a defense or read any court documents. On Wednesday, he again watched with disdain, a small smile playing around his lips. Dressed smartly in a dark blue suit with a light blue shirt and striped tie, Milosevic glanced dismissively at his watch or drank a glass of water. The court cut his microphone several times to interrupt his monolgues and tell Milosevic, the first head of state to be tried for war crimes, to focus on the case at hand. This repeated a pattern of events seen at Milosevic's four earlier court appearances. The former president insists the UN court was created illegally and says his trial dealing with alleged atrocities in Kosovo is part of an international conspiracy to cover up crimes by NATO during bombing raids on Serbia in the same period. Though tribunal judges decided in December to hold two separate trials, the issue may arise again. Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has filed a motion for leave to appeal this decision, which is now under consideration. The prosecution wants a single trial joining the tribuanl's three indictments against Milosevic -- notably the charge of genocide for atrocities in Bosnia in 1992-95 -- contending that events in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo were all part of an overall plan to establish an ethnically pure "greater Serbia."
International Herald Tribune 4 Jan 2002 Crimes against humanity A UN tribunal prosecutor's quest to bring two of the world's worst criminals to justice By Charles M. Madigan THE HAGUE -- On the street, no one would think to look more than once at Graham Blewitt treading down Churchillplein and heading to the office for another day's work. You might think "chartered accountant" or "real estate." Fifty-ish. Gray suit. A tad rumpled. He is a pleasant-looking man, and if he happened to say "good day," you might notice how softly he speaks. It is what's inside his head that matters. Ask him what he wants more than anything right now and two names roll out. He does not have to think. He does not have to go through the long laundry list of "I wants" that seems to clog the brains of most people. He does not want a new car. He does not want a house. There is no stuttering about this. "Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic." Mladic was a general in command of the Bosnian Serb army from its inception in May 1992. Karadzic, as the first president of the Bosnian Serb administration, was Mladic's commander and because of his office, in charge of the army from May 1992 onward. It is the burden of the deputy prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal that he must know more dark things about the way people behave than most people could ever imagine. He may never be able to use it in court because there are just too many awful stories. So he gets to carry his thoughts in his head. Two years ago, for example, he was pondering reports that combatants in the former Yugoslavia had dug up mass graves and destroyed the remains in acid pickling vats at smelters, which turned out to be the case. His suspicion was that they were worried about satellite photos of the graves. Then there are all the cases he will never see prosecuted, because Yugoslavia was big and bitter and the conflict lasted so long. Even with its $100 million annual budget, the Tribunal is relatively small compared to the size of the offense. It includes the investigation of genocide in Rwanda too. That claimed half a million lives. The record has shown, though, that what Graham Blewitt can use in many cases is quite enough. He and prosecutor Carla del Ponte have picked their shots, the top 200 cases. The Bosnian Serb politician and military leader are at the top of the list. What he knows about Mladic and Karadzic is packed into a pair of vintage indictments that are now so old they were signed, for Blewitt, two bosses ago. Richard J. Goldstone, the South African judge tapped by the United Nations when it was hot on the trail of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, issued the indictments in July and in November of 1995. The charges include genocide and crimes against humanity. Blewitt, an Australian attorney, had been in his job as deputy prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal at that point for about a year. He was with the first team of cops and lawyers who came on board after the United Nations set up what it called "The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia" under a Security Council resolution in 1993. Why Mladic and Karadzic? Unfinished work "We need them here. There is no question of that," Blewitt said in an interview in his office in the old, security dense insurance building that now houses the tribunal. "I think that in a way, this tribunal could never regard its work as finished until that happens. If you look at what happened in the United States on Sept. 11, with all of those huge crimes, there is a demand that the people who committed such crimes be held accountable. "What Karadzic and Mladic did in terms of Srebrenica was no less evil. Instead of a couple of airplanes destroying thousands of people in a couple of minutes, the actions of Karadzic and Mladic and the people under them in a period of three or four days killed upwards of 8,000 people. "The crimes they are responsible for are just as enormous, and I don't think the world should rest until they are brought to justice." One of the interesting aspects of the United Nations' tribunal here in the Netherlands is that its prosecutors are not beholden to the Security Council and they are not as stingy or formal with comments as are U.S. prosecutors. Part of the tribunal's mission is to tell as much of the story of the former Yugoslavia as it can tell, preferably in front of the three-judge panels that hear the cases. Sometime in the middle of this year, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will face his tribunal, charged with genocide and a host of other offenses that flowed from the violence in Yugoslavia that began in 1991 and seemed to flare with the intensity of fire for most of the decade. One might think that in the world of realpolitik, where the historical record on war crimes of all kinds tends toward accommodation and eventual forgetfulness, that capturing the former president of the country and tossing him in the can and scheduling a trial would be enough. But for Blewitt and the other prosecutors here, it is not. Now that he is in jail, Milosevic is just another perp awaiting justice, although a very big perp. He is viewed here as the head of a criminal conspiracy that claimed countless thousands of lives until enough world pressure was focused on the situation to bump him out of office and into prison in The Hague. It was simply impossible for Yugoslavia to move one step forward as long as he was in charge. The locals in Belgrade realized that. If you can catch the president, why can't you catch these other two suspects? Under Yugoslav protection "Mladic is in Belgrade. There is no question of that. He is being protected. We know that the Yugoslav government is not prepared to release him. They are using the excuse of an absence of law (allowing cooperation with the Tribunal) to transmit him. Well, then, where is the law? There are obligations on them to pass the law to make it happen," Blewitt said. Karadzic "is a harder nut to crack." He is somewhere in Bosnia, Blewitt believes, and he, too, is somehow being protected. There have been lots of opportunities to arrest him, but it's not happening. The Tribunal has cops, but they are investigators and have no powers of arrest. It literally must depend on the diligence and good intentions of police forces and military units in the areas where wanted suspects are located. If you are part of the United Nations and one of these suspects is in your territory, you are supposed to arrest him immediately and send him to The Hague. However, put a real army -- or one of the rent-a-thug armies that were so common during the Yugoslav conflict -- around a suspect and it slows the process quite a bit. Peacekeepers don't make very good policemen. It's not their job. No commander wants to sacrifice his troops to an armed mob so they can deliver an arrest warrant. The arrests, then, await a political solution. What did they do? The indictments issued by the war crimes tribunal don't get far into the heavy language of the law, the "so and so thus did violate this and that," which tends to make the nature of the act a little hard to understand. Read the indictments (they are available at http:/www.un.org/icty/indictment/English/kar-ii950724e.htm) and you can understand why Blewitt is so insistent. The indictments Here is what it says on the tops of the indictments of Karadzic and Mladic. "Richard J. Goldstone, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, pursuant to his authority under Article 18 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ("The Statute of the Tribunal"), charges: RATKO MLADIC and RADOVAN KARADZIC With GENOCIDE, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY and VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS OR CUSTOMS OF WAR, as set below:" Then there is a narrative, with the following story only one of several at the heart of the cases against the suspects, summarized here from the indictment. It takes some telling. The devil, unfortunately, is in the details. Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 6, 1995. The war had been raging across collapsing Yugoslavia since 1991. The United Nations had sent Dutch soldiers into what was known as a safe area in Srebrenica for Muslim men, women and children, the targets of "ethnic cleansing" campaigns that had been sweeping across the former Yugoslavia for years. There were Muslim combatants in the safe area, too, some of them soldiers and some of them armed civilians. The Bosnian Serb Army, under the Mladic and Karadzic command structure, shelled Srebrenica and attacked the Dutch soldiers in their observation posts in a campaign that lasted until July 11. There were two courses of action taken by the Muslim men, women and children in the area when the attack began. Several thousand of them fled one "safe area" and sought cover at the United Nations compound in Potocari, where the Dutch battalion responsible for the safe area was housed. They stayed there until July 13, when they were prepared, after negotiations with the Bosnian Serbs, for an evacuation by buses and trucks controlled and operated by Bosnian Serb military personnel. A second group of about 15,000 Bosnian Muslim men, along with some women and children, gathered at a place called Susnjari on the night of July 11, formed a huge column and fled through the woods toward a town called Tuzla. About 5,000 of this group were armed Bosnian Muslim soldiers and civilians. The rest were unarmed. Even as these events were developing, according to the indictment, Mladic and members of his staff were meeting with Dutch military officers and representatives of the Muslim refugees. Mladic informed them that Bosnian Muslim soldiers who surrendered their weapons would be treated as prisoners of war according to the Geneva Conventions and that the refugees would not be hurt. Burning and looting A day later, Bosnian Serb military forces burned and looted Muslim homes in and around Potocari. On the same day, in the morning, Bosnian Serb military forces arrived at the UN compound at Potocari. At that point, the prosecution alleges, Mladic showed up with aides and a TV crew and "falsely and repeatedly told Bosnian Muslims in and around Potocari that they would not be harmed. . . ." Some 50 to 60 buses showed up. The indictment says that under Mladic's direction, the men were separated from the women and children. The men were told they were being exchanged for Bosnian Serbs held in Tuzla. "Most of the Muslim men who had been separated from the other refugees at Potocari were transported to Bratunac and then to the area of Karakaj, where they were massacred by Bosnian Serb military personnel. "Between 12 July 1995 and 13 July 1995, Bosnian Serb military personnel summarily executed Bosnian Muslim men and women at diverse locations around the United Nations compound where they had taken refuge. The bodies of those summarily executed were left in fields and buildings in the immediate vicinity of the compound. Those arbitrary killings instilled such terror and panic amongst the Muslims remaining there that some of them committed suicide and others agreed to leave the enclave." By the 13th of July, there were no more Muslims left in the area. As these events were playing out at the UN compound, Bosnian Serb military units with armored personnel carriers, tanks, anti-aircraft guns and artillery blocked the road to interdict the column of 15,000 Muslims fleeing toward Tuzla. They attacked when the column came into Bosnian Serb territory, the indictment says. Many were killed and wounded. About 5,000 made it to safety. Thousands more were captured by Bosnian Serb troops. They were assured that if they surrendered, they would be safe. Bosnian Serb soldiers in stolen United Nations uniforms accompanied the regular troops, encouraging the Muslims to tell their friends to come out of the woods, that it would be OK. That gave the scene a veneer of international authority. It made it feel safer. Many of those who surrendered were summarily executed, the indictment says. The indictment goes on, detailing more promises broken and more captives slain. There are more details in the Karadzic and Mladic cases, but the one story seems sufficient in explaining why Blewitt is determined to bring them to The Hague. Taking a measure of murder From Croatia in 1991 on to Kosovo at the end, Blewitt and the war crimes prosecutors measure the conflict in terms of people killed, mass graves unearthed, evidence destroyed, bodies burned in steel mill furnaces, refrigerator trucks of remains found and chains of command and responsibility. Who did the killing, who were the officers, to whom did they report? Wading through the documents and thinking about the cases and what they represent -- particularly in light of the New York and Pentagon attacks, in which thousands of disinterested, disconnected people became instant victims of conflict -- raises an uncomfortable question: Do people ever learn? There is a pause and a sigh. "I don't think anything has changed since the dawn of man. As human beings have been involved in conflicts, they have always involved the commission of crimes. I can remember times previous when it was the right of the victor to plunder and rape the lands that they had conquered. It just went with the territory," he said. What has changed, he said, are the terms of conflict. Crossbows are no longer allowed. There are treaties about land mines. Those things have changed about warfare, of course, along with the rule of law. "If there was no law, there would be anarchy," Blewitt said. "I think what we are seeing as a result of this tribunal is that different people are stopping to think, `Well, am I going to get away with this or not?" If they think they can get away with it, he said, they will do it.
AFP 5 Jan 2002 16 Russians killed in Chechnya, rebels say Chechen rebels killed 16 Russian soldiers as they stormed an armoured army column in the southeast of the breakaway republic, a separatist Chechen website said today. The radical Chechen site, Kakvaz Center, quoted warlord Khattab saying that 15 other Russian troops were wounded in Friday's attack near the village of TsaVedeno. The Russian military high command declined comment and no independent confirmation was available, Echo of Moscow radio reported. The New Year has seen a sharp escalation of fighting in Chechnya. Russian forces claimed yesterday to have killed numerous separatists in the south of the republic, while rebels have stepped up their operations. Russian forces entered Chechnya on October 1, 1999 to put down a separatist insurgency in what Moscow describes as an anti-terrorist operation. Preliminary contact between Moscow and the rebels in November, with representatives from the Kremlin and Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov, failed to make political progress.
Moscow Times 9 Jan 2002 Troops Sweep Through Chechen Towns Combined Reports Hundreds of protesters in the Chechen town of Argun on Tuesday demanded that federal troops end a security sweep that has brought new accusations of human-rights abuses and led to fierce fighting. Argun has been under fire since Thursday as federal forces try to flush out rebels, some of whom are believed to have fled another sweep in the nearby village of Tsotsin-Yurt. In the past week, 187 people were detained, 13 of whom remained under arrest Tuesday, Interfax reported, citing city officials. Human rights workers are collecting what they describe as mounting evidence that troops committed unjustified killings and other abuses during sweeps of the two towns. Usam Baisayev, deputy director of the regional office of the human rights group Memorial, said the first military operation began in Tsotsin-Yurt on Dec. 30, just as Russia shut down for the New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holiday. "The soldiers kept shooting at any Chechen male they saw for four days in a row," Baisayev said from his office in the Ingush city of Nazran, on the border with Chechnya. "They did not even bother to figure out whether the person they were about to deprive of life is or was a member of a rebel gang." Military officials say the troops are rooting out rebels hiding among the civilian population and have killed more than 100 rebels in the operation. The rebels have reported killing 40 federal troops. The reports are impossible to verify. Chechnya's chief prosecutor, Vsevolod Chernov, said the people who were detained were suspected of having links to the rebels. "Investigations will determine whether they had anything to do with them," he said. "Once the fighting is over, a team will be dispatched and we shall see who has been killed." Argun remained sealed off Tuesday, with only military vehicles allowed in and out of the town, but officials said the operation was winding down and troops began pulling out of Argun late Tuesday. About 300 people took part in a protest earlier in the day urging an end to the sweep, an official in the Moscow-appointed Chechen administration said. The fighting in Argun and Tsotsin-Yurt, both east of Grozny, has been some of the heaviest seen in Chechnya in recent months. A gun battle broke out Monday when rebels opened fire from buildings on either side of a bridge as a military patrol crossed into Argun, ORT television reported. "The fire was so heavy that the fighting went on for more than four hours," the ORT reporter said from Grozny. "Air support had to be called in. It was only with the help of fire from military helicopters that the rebel site was put out of action and one building was destroyed." Two soldiers were killed and four wounded, while seven bodies were found in the destroyed house from which rebels had fired on the convoy, the report said. The rebel web site Kavkaz.org said the battle broke out after troops fired on a demonstration of women and rounded up about 200 residents. Information about events in Chechnya is often fragmentary and unverifiable because of poor communication and a lack of impartial observers. Most Russian news reports are based on official statements from military headquarters; the Chechen rebels' web site routinely exaggerates rebel gains. Information from other Chechen sources often takes days or weeks to trickle out. Kheda Saratova, an investigator with Memorial, spent three days in Tsotsin-Yurt before leaving Saturday and collected evidence that at least 37 civilians were killed by federal troops. She said that in order to retrieve the bodies, relatives of the victims were forced to sign a statement acknowledging that their loved ones were members of rebel groups. "Troops kill peaceful civilians and then try to pass them off as rebels," she said after reaching Nazran. "The military just grabs anyone who is at hand and then the rest of the world has to trust their 'professionalism' when they say these people were bandits." Saratova cited the case of 37-year-old Musa Ismailov, a town mullah, who was taken away by soldiers in Tsotsin-Yurt on Dec. 30. As the troops escorted him out the door, his 36-year-old wife, Malika, saw that one of his ears had been cut off and that he was bleeding from the wound. She tried to follow him, but a soldier threatened to shoot her. Later, to retrieve her husband's body, she had to pay 1,000 rubles, or about $33, to federal troops and sign a document saying he had been a rebel fighter. "This pretty much makes all members of our family fighters automatically," the woman told Saratova, who transcribed the interview. "And now I am afraid ... that my 17-year-old son will take up a gun and will try to avenge his father's death. And I will not be able to stop my son. In fact, most of the people who are fighting against the federals today and whom the federals call bandits are ordinary people who want to avenge their relatives who were unjustly slaughtered by the federal troops." Saratova said residents reported that many of the soldiers, perhaps because of New Year's revelry, appeared to be drunk during the operations. She also said the troops had burned an unknown number of corpses on the town outskirts. "The entire town reeks of burned flesh and putrefaction," she said. Saratova said several residents reported seeing the commander of Russia's troops in Chechnya, Lieutenant General Vladimir Moltenskoi, in Tsotsin-Yurt during the operation. Moltenskoi was also commander during document sweeps in the Chechen villages of Sernovodsk and Assinovskaya in July that were denounced as cruel and wanton even by pro-Kremlin officials in the region. "Most of the reports coming these days from [Tsotsin-Yurt] sound very true," said Andrei Piontkovsky, director of the Independent Institute for Strategic Studies. "Things that would several years ago make one's hair stand on end today sound utterly commonplace. "Because Russia has turned out to be a very useful and instrumental ally of the U.S. in fighting international terrorism, the West has completely turned a blind eye to what is happening in Chechnya," he continued. The U.S. ambassador to Russia said Friday that the United States has taken steps to help cut financial and military support to foreign fighters operating in Chechnya, such as Khattab. But Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, speaking in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio, added that the United States remains concerned about the human rights situation and urged Russia to negotiate a peace deal with Chechen separatists. (LAT, AP, Reuters, MT)
Reuters 11 Jan 2002 US Slams Russia's 'Overwhelming Force' in Chechnya January 11, 2002 04:06 AM ET Email this article Printer friendly version By Elaine Monaghan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday, ending a post-Sept. 11 trend of avoiding criticizing Russia's campaign in Chechnya, accused Moscow of using "overwhelming force" in its battle with Muslim rebels there. The sharp words came a day after Moscow announced results of one its bloodiest crackdowns in the secessionist province for a year, saying it had killed 92 rebels in a month. "The latest information on Russian operations in Chechnya indicates a continuation of human rights violations and the use of overwhelming force against civilian targets," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a news briefing. The chief Kremlin spokesman on Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said the casualties were inflicted in a host of settlements southeast of the Chechen capital Grozny and that five Russian servicemen were killed and 24 others wounded. He gave no figure for civilian deaths, which have been almost impossible to verify independently in either of the two post-Soviet conflicts in Chechnya. Human rights groups routinely put the civilian death toll in the thousands however, while the combatants equally routinely exaggerate enemy losses while minimizing their own. A State Department official told Reuters the U.S. assessment that civilians had been targeted in the attacks on settlements including Argun and Tsotsin-Yurt was based on reports from Russians on the ground. They included members of a human rights group called Memorial which has worked to document abuses in Chechnya but was originally set up in 1988 by late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov to remember victims of Stalinist repression. The official also cited evidence from a group named after "glasnost" -- the word for openness used to describe the policies of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. RUDE AWAKENING Boucher's words were a rude awakening after months of muted Western comments on Chechnya since Sept. 11, in contrast with the regular ear-bashings Moscow had received at international gatherings and bilaterally for the scale of the campaign. He said Washington would continue to urge both sides to pursue political negotiations, adding that the lack of a solution and "the number of credible reports of massive human rights violations, we believe, contribute to an environment that's favorable toward terrorism." His remarks sounded like a sharp rebuke to Russia's top general who ruled out talks with the main Chechen separatist leaders Thursday. "It is clear that there are terrorist factions in Chechnya with ties to al Qaeda and international terrorism networks, and as part of the war on terrorism we're cooperating with the Russians on cutting off those kinds of ties," Boucher said. "Unfortunately, the Russians have not pursued the initial and encouraging contacts with Chechen separatists," he added. DOOR OPENED TO CHECHEN TALKS President Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to reach President Bush by telephone to offer his support after hijackers flew airliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington. He followed up the call with a speech that for the first time drew a distinction between "terrorists" and independence-minded Chechens and opened the door to negotiations which have made no progress. The United States responded by praising the speech and making its most public statements in months acknowledging alleged links between the Chechen fighters and elements of the al Qaeda network accused of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then it has tried to encourage Moscow to seek a political solution to the conflict and to investigate widespread allegations of atrocities by its forces. Putin's speech was followed in November by the first acknowledged talks between Moscow and a rebel representative since their latest conflict flared more than two years ago.
Reuters 9 Jan 2002 Putin Disbands Pardons Commission Putin meeting with Pristavkin on Dec. 28, hours before he signed the pardons decree. President Vladimir Putin has dissolved the Pardons Commission, one of the country's most liberal institutions set up under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. A presidential decree, issued late Dec. 28, dissolved the commission, set up by Yeltsin in 1992, and ordered the creation instead of commissions in each of Russia's 89 regions under the direction of local governors. It said commissions were to be made up of unpaid members "enjoying the respect of the community and having an impeccable reputation." Governors are to publish the names of prisoners seeking pardons from the head of state. Putin's move followed several days of suggestions from the Kremlin -- as well as reports earlier last year -- that the existing commission was likely to be disbanded and a meeting with its chairman, Anatoly Pristavkin. "Yes, the commission in its current form is being dissolved," Pristavkin, a respected author, told ORT television after the meeting, which took place Dec. 28. "But the president expressed his gratitude to the commission and said he was ready to make use of the commission's 10 years of experience in the future." The commission examined requests for a presidential pardon from any prisoner, subject to a number of restrictions, and made recommendations to the head of state. Made up of writers, actors, theater directors, clerics and other public figures, it earned a reputation for defending liberal values and was also seen as a safeguard against the harsh penal system inherited from the communist era. "In any other country, where leaders and the elite espouse clear values, there is little reason for viewing such decisions [the disbanding of the commission] as symbols determining the path of development," Mikhail Krasnov of the Indem think tank wrote in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. "We so far have no such outlook and therefore moves of this nature give rise to suspicion." Pristavkin was a fervent defender of a moratorium on capital punishment introduced in Russia in 1996, despite overwhelming public opposition, in order to meet the membership requirements of the Council of Europe. Last June, he complained that Putin had reduced to a handful the number of people securing presidential pardons -- compared with thousands issued the previous year. He accused the Justice Ministry, which runs Russia's prisons, of blocking the system. NTV television reported Dec. 29 that prisons had begun releasing some of the 23,000 prisoners ordered freed under one of the periodic amnesties voted for by parliament in November.
AIM 11 JAN 2002 Exhumation of Mass Graves Ends In the Shadow of Crime The remains of 427 people have been exhumed so far from mass graves in Serbia. These are probably the bodies of ethnic Albanians killed in fighting that ended on June 11, 1999. Except Slobodan Milosevic and three of his police collaborators, no other possible suspects have been mentioned. AIM Belgrade, December 24, 2001 To this day only one of what appears to be a series of organized attempts to cover up crimes committed by the Milosevic regime in Kosovo and Metohija has been reconstructed with a degree of reliability, and, of course, not in full. Shortly before the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began, in the night between March 20 and March 21, 1999, a freezer truck was dumped into the Danube near the town of Tekija, about 200 kilometers east of Belgrade. Two weeks later, the truck surfaced: a police investigation determined that it contained the remains of 86 men, women and children. On orders from Gen. Vlastimir Djordjevic, then head of the Public Security Department of the Serbian Interior Ministry, investigators were called off and the case was declared top secret: the bodies were loaded onto two trucks and taken to Belgrade, "for autopsy." Two years later, at the beginning of May 2001, Gen. Vlastimir Djordjevic was retired, only to shortly afterwards disappear in an unknown direction. From that moment on, the Serbian Interior Ministry has been intensely communicating with the public and releasing considerable information about the freezer truck case. Two key documents were an order to remove all traces of crimes in Kosovo and Metohija issued by Slobodan Milosevic in mid-March 1999 at a meeting with then interior minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic, Public Security Service head Vlastimir Djordjevic, State Security Service (secret police) head Radomir Markovic, and "others," whose identity remains undisclosed. Slobodan Milosevic is currently in Scheveningen, Vlajko Stojiljkovic has been indicted by the Hague International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and is an MP in the federal Parliament, and Radomir Markovic has been convicted of revealing state secrets (whose nature has not been explained). Meanwhile at three locations in Serbia a total of five mass graves containing the remains of at least 427 persons have been dug up, and it has been determined that at another location there are at least another three mass graves, and at a third, one more. At the beginning of June an expert team from Belgrade University's Institute of Forensic Medicine began exhumation of the first mass grave found on the Special Operations Unit's May 13 training center, along the Zemun-Batajnica road, near Belgrade. In a relatively small, 3x3m pit body parts of at least 36 people, including eight children and an eight months old fetus were buried, all dressed in civilian clothes. The condition of the remains has prevented the team from determining the cause of their death: only two bullets were found on the spot. Some of the remains showed certain signs of burning: the archaeological part of the team managed to determine that there had been an attempt to burn the bodies -- they were piled up on a pyre of planks about the size of railroad ties. Seven identity cards were found in the grave, of which six were issued to individuals with the family name Berisha, all of them from the same street in Suva Reka. One of the few documents was dated March 1, 1999, which could mean that at least one person was killed after that date. In July and August 2001 another two mass graves in Petrovo Selo, near Kladovo, where another special forces training camp is located, were exhumed. A total of 74 bodies were recovered, 16 from one grave, and 58 from the other. A team from the Nis Forensic Medicine Center had a much easier job because the bodies were put in sacks or wrapped in plastic sheeting before being transported and buried. Only one female body was found. Later reports confirmed that among them were the bodies of three ethnic Albanians with U.S. citizenship. In the spring of 1999, they were sentenced to 15 days in prison for illegally entering Yugoslavia and were to be deported afterwards. However, they disappeared after being released from prison under unclear circumstances. According to what little information is available, the U.S. has asked that the identity of these three KLA volunteers be determined by DNA tests. All the exhumed bodies were dressed in civilian clothes and, according to Vujadin Otasevic, the forensic team's head, most "had marks left by bullets." The exhumation continued in September when a mass grave was unearthed at the spot where the Derventa River runs into Lake Perucac, near Bajina Basta in western Serbia. From this mass grave 48 bodies were recovered. The Humanitarian Law Fund warned that yet another freezer truck was dumped into the lake during the NATO bombing as early as May 23, in letters sent to the speaker of the Serbian Legislature and Serbia's justice and interior ministers. The fund's claims that the truck had been dumped into the lake and that police knew about it were denied by local authorities until the beginning of September, when information was published on the exhumation and the autopsy performed by the Institute of Pathology and Forensic Medicine of the Belgrade Military Hospital. Of 48 bodies, 38 were male, one was female, and the sex of nine could not be established. According to autopsy results, all were adults with lethal wounds inflicted by small arms. They had been buried for about two years. The condition of the remains indicated that they had spent some time in the water. Most of them were dressed in civilian clothes. In mid September the last exhumation was carried out at the 13 May Training Center, near Belgrade. In a pit large enough to hold the truck that transported them, the remains of 269 people were discovered, all males of different age. According to an official announcement by the Belgrade District Court, some bodies bore marks indicating exposure to high temperature which could mean a failed attempt at burning them. Their wounds were caused by firearms and their clothes were civilian. In addition to classical elements used for identification, including personal documents and, at least in one case an Albanian army ID tag, samples for DNA tests have been taken. The process was observed by representatives of the ICTY, OSCE, the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Fund, and the International Commission for Missing Persons. At this point forensic reports pertaining to the first mass grave in Batajnica, and the two in Petrovo Selo, where the bodies have been reburied, are complete. As far as the more than 300 bodies dug out in Batajnica are concerned, they have been stored in on-site underground tunnels until all reports are completed, which might take until next spring. Domestic exhumation and forensic experts, probably thanks to ten years of war in the former Yugoslavia, are among the most experienced in the world. They stress the difficulties they encountered in determining even the number of bodies, because some were buried twice or three times, because at least in two cases they spent some time in the water, and because the bodies were fragmented during transport and while being buried by bulldozers. Except in the first grave in Batajnica, among the dead there are no women and children, and some of the experts say that regardless of the civilian clothes found in the graves, it is not certain that they were actually civilians, because many bodies had several layers of clothing and shaving kits. Police have reliable data indicating that there are at least three more mass graves at the Batajnica training camp, and at least one in the region of Vranje in southern Serbia. According to Police Capt. Dragan Karleusa, who is in charge of the investigation, there also is a mass grave under the Leskovac-Bujanovac road, in Vranje municipality. The bodies were buried in some of the craters created by NATO bombs in 1999, that were later covered with concrete and asphalt. There are five such locations near Vranje, and the exact location of the mass grave has not been determined. News of the discovery and unearthing of mass graves was in the media focus from the beginning of May until the end of June, 2001. The opposition believes this was a deliberate campaign meant to prepare the public for the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague tribunal. This explanation was not rejected by certain members of the ruling bloc, as well as by certain intellectuals who perceive themselves as "protectors of Serbia's national interests." Because of this, at least until now, there has been no serious confrontation with crimes committed by "us," regardless of whether they were invented on orders from the West, whether they are smaller, the same, or greater than the crimes committed by the other side, which provoked them, or whether there are something that only Slobodan Milosevic will be held responsible for. The exhumation was undeniable proof not only of the crimes themselves, but of the crime of trying to cover it all up as well. The investigation so far has not resulted in a single indictment, despite the fact that dozens of people, mostly police officers, participated in the coverup. Moreso, even Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic justifies their participation in transporting the bodies and their secret burial by duress, fear for one's life or job, following orders, lack of knowledge... It turned out that all this failed to silence the witnesses, or at least did not silence them at the point when discovery of the crimes, whatever the reason, became unavoidable. What can cause much more concern, however, is the fact that even in cases where the name of the victim has been determined, there are still no signs, at least not public, that efforts to catch the culprits are underway. In other words, if the investigation has discovered that several members of the Berisha family have been killed in Suva Reka, the Serbian Interior Ministry has to have data on police units operating in the area in 1998 and 1999. Everything else is a routine job. The lack of any indication that such an investigation has been launched only strengthens the arguments of the new government's critics, who accuse it of being unprepared, hesitant, or incapable of facing the magnitude of the crimes, even in terms of police action, if in no other way. Aleksandar Ciric (AIM)
AP 4 Jan 2002 Swedish Neo-Nazi Sentenced STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - The neo-Nazi publisher of a booklet derogatory to Jews was sentenced Friday to six months in jail for violating Sweden's hate speech law. A district court on Gotland, an island 60 miles east of the Swedish mainland, said the booklet, titled ``The Jewish Question,'' constituted ``agitation against an ethnic group.'' The publisher, Fredrik Sandberg, 25, faced up to two years in prison. The material originally was written by a Nazi party member and published in 1936. The National Socialist Front, a neo-Nazi organization, published a new, 60-page edition two years ago and sold it on its Web site. Several copies were confiscated by police and the organization was ordered to stop selling the material. A spokesman for the organization, Bjoern Bjoerkqvist, called the ruling ``a blow'' to free speech.
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Press release18 January 2002 http://utrikes.regeringen.se/ Request for extradition of Alfredo Astiz delivered in Buenos Aires Navy officer Alfredo Astiz has been apprehended and placed under arrest (on 28 December 2001) in Argentina, on the basis of the international warrant issued in connection with the detention order against Astiz pronounced by Stockholm City Court. The charge is kidnapping. The request for Astiz's extradition to Sweden comes from Chief District Prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand at the International Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm. The Swedish Ambassador to Argentina, Madeleine Ströje-Wilkens, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, today, 18 January 2002, delivered the request for Astiz's extradition to Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Jorge Faurie and State Secretary Rogelio Pfirter. The case will now be processed by the Argentine authorities. Delivering the request, Ambassador Ströje-Wilkens emphasised the importance of clarifying the fate of Dagmar Hagelin. The Swedish Government has put this point to Argentine governments repeatedly over the years, ever since Dagmar Hagelin's disappearance in January 1977. In recent years the Prime Minister, Göran Persson, has personally taken up the case with both President Menem and President de la Rúa. "The Ambassador also expressed Sweden's solidarity with the Argentine people and the hope that Argentina will be able to solve the serious crisis in which the country now finds itself – in political, economic, social and legal terms", says Minister for Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh in a comment. "The Ambassador emphasised the hope of the Swedish Government that justice will be done and that the new Argentine Government under President Duhalde will take measures to strengthen the legal system and clear up outstanding human rights cases", adds Anna Lindh.
AP 3 Jan 2002 Turkey Talks Anti-Islamic Campaign By SELCAN HACAOGLU, Associated Press Writer ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkey's civilian and military leaders have considered further curbing religious education and tightening controls over Islamic businesses in an apparent expansion of the campaign against Islamic political activism. The National Security Council, which is made up of top generals and political leaders, discussed the topic in a Dec. 28 meeting to push Parliament on measures to curb the rise of political Islam - perceived as one of the greatest threats to the officially secular nation, the Hurriyet newspaper reported Thursday. The measures, such as controlling activities of Islamic businesses suspected of funding Islamic groups and imposing new bans on Islamic schooling, are likely to increase tension between the secular establishment and Islamic circles. ``We are on the verge of implementation of practices that could lead to polarization,'' Ali Yasar Saribay, a political analyst at the Uludag University, told private NTV television. ``Adopting tough measures would not serve to the good of democracy.'' Most Security Council decisions are not announced and officials were not available to comment. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party, criticized the measures Thursday. ``Avoiding practices that harm social peace is extremely important for the country's future,'' Erdogan told members of Parliament. While most Turks are Muslims, the government is staunchly secular and has striven for years to reduce the clout of Islamic political groups. The powerful military pressured the government to close down religious secondary schools and Koranic courses in 1998, one year after the army forced an Islamic government out of power.
- Agence France-Presse